The Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia(JMI) organized the second lecture of the Distinguished Lecture Series, “Pandemic Mysticism” by Prof. Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy, the New School for Social Research, on Friday, 16th July, 2021, at 7:30 PM IST on Zoom. Supported by the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), Ministry of Education, Government of India, the talk was organized as part of the ongoing academic collaboration with Department of English and American Studies, University of Würzburg, Germany, and promises to be one in a line of successively pertinent lectures.
The talk was conducted by Ms. Zahra Rizvi and Ms. Shraddha A. Singh, Ph.D. Scholars in the Department of English, JMI, and was enthusiastically attended by a large number of scholars, students, and faculty from all over the world and across various timezones.Prof. Simi Malhotra, H.o.D., Department of English, JMI, Indian PI, delivered the welcome address, greeting the invited speaker, faculty, scholars, and students.
She spoke about the talk as a part of the ongoing collaborative project between the Department of English, JMI and American Studies, University of Wuerzburg, on “New Terrains of Consciousness: Globalization, Sensory Environments and Local Cultures of Knowledge”, supported by the Ministry of Education’s initiative SPARC, which aims to facilitate academic and research collaboration between higher education institutes in India and abroad.
She, then, introduced the esteemed speaker, Prof. Simon Critchley, who was greeted by a round of applause. Prof. Simon Critchley talked about humanity’s ascetic-like experience at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and how he finds profound historical and religious resonances with the logic, poetics and practices of mysticism. The lecture invited one to dwell on the experiences of mysticism as found in Christianity in the West, and also suggested a revisioning of the positionality of conventional philosophic thought which is grounded in scepticism and critical thinking to one of understanding.
Through the lecture, Prof. Critchley also outlined the following seven adverbs to understand mysticism: Obliquely, Autobiographically, Vernacularly, Performatively, Practically, Erotically and Ascetically, and invited the audience to think on ‘pandemic mysticism’ through the context of these adverbs.The lecture was followed by a participative, in-depth Q/A session coordinated by Ms. Ann Susan Aleyas, a Ph.D. Scholar in the Department of English, JMI. The event was brought to an end with a Vote of Thanks by Ms. Zahra Rizvi.
The audience was also invited to join the next talk in the Distinguished Lecture Series, to be delivered by Prof. Nancy Fraser on “The Covid Pandemic: A Perfect Storm of Capitalist Irrationality and Injustice” on 23rd July, 2021, 8:00-9:00 PM IST. To ensure a wide range of viewership and participation, the event was also live streamed on YouTube, and was attended by over a hundred participants.