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Disciplines of Attention in a Secular Age

Disciplines of Attention in a Secular Age
170 St. George Street, JHB Room 318
Time: Mar 1st, 4:00 pm End: Mar 1st, 5:30 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), English and Drama (UTM), English (UTSC), English (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, 2000-
Talk by Caleb Smith

The Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies presents

Professor Caleb Smith, Yale University

Caleb Smith

Disciplines of Attention in a Secular Age

Co-sponsored with the Department of English

“The degree of attention we pay,” one minister preached in 1850, “depends upon our own disposition to attend. This shows us that the matter, after all, is very largely one of /discipline/.” Distraction, the wandering of the mind, is an ancient problem, but it took a new form in the nineteenth century, with the rise of industrial capitalism, mass media, and secularization. Distraction came to be understood as a symptom of history—of modernity itself. In response, writers around the Atlantic world sought to repair the psychic damage by designing new disciplines of sustained attentiveness. This talk examines attention as one of the spiritual exercises of a secular age, from Thoreau’s /Walden/ to some contemporary defenses of the humanities.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, contact the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at 416 946 8464.


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