February 26-28, 2015
At first glance, the meaning of ‘everyday life’ may seem clear. However, for as long as ‘everyday life’ and the range of objects, affects, and practices it calls to mind have been studied, scholars have engaged in intense debate over what everyday life is and how best represent it. This seminar considers the current state of scholarship on everyday life, with a special focus on the different ways in which it has been conceptualized and written about in different disciplinary sites and geographic locales. What defines the study of the everyday among scholars working in Europe? How have scholars working in places like India, Africa, and the Caribbean taken up their work? What, moreover, is the everyday to historians and literary critics? Sociologists and anthropologists? Philosophers and linguists? And in what ways have scholars tried to represent the everyday life in their work? Can the academic essay capture the elusive nature of what scholarship in this area tries to represent? Or does the study of everyday life demand a reconsideration of scholarly genres as well? By exploring a wide range of ways in which scholars in the humanities and social sciences have conceptualized everyday life, the seminar hopes, on one level, to come to terms with an area of inquiry that is often as elusive as it is influential. At the same time, however, it also aims to develop a sense of the ways in which the study of everyday life has influenced the way scholars across the disciplines do their work today.