Global Humanities Junior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University
April – December 2016
Bartleby Today. Politics, Passivity and Acceleration
Hannah Wallenfels’s research project revolves around the figure of Bartleby, the protagonist of Herman Melville’s eponymous short story. Over the past years, Bartleby’s enigmatic and potentially disruptive formula “I would prefer not to” has become a catchphrase within the cultural imaginary of certain emancipatory countercurrents in political action and thinking. But long before Bartleby took to the streets with movements like Occupy or Anonymous, he became a haunting presence in critical theory from Maurice Blanchot via Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida to Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek and Tiqqun. As a Global Humanities Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Hannah will seek to map the ways in which these thinkers conceive of refusal as a political category in light of their appropriations of an American literary figure that has become the global poster boy of the possibility of resistance.
Hannah Wallenfels is currently an MA student in philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin. She holds a BA degree in political science and philosophy from Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and has been awarded a scholarship by the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes). Her main area of research is political philosophy and theory, focussing in particular on resistance, passivity theory and feminism. Besides her academic pursuits, she works as an editor for the Berlin-based publishing house Merve.