Talking Terms Seminars

Talking Terms Seminars are an occasion for interested parties to discuss the conceptual categories defining the consortium and its mission, and a collaborative program for collectively developing the terms which define and organize our work. In short, we will talk about terms now in order to set the terms for our future work.

Talking Terms Seminars include reading groups and invited visitors, but they are also occasions for University of Minnesota faculty and students to talk with one another about the consortium, its mission, and its boundaries. We therefore extend an invitation to all faculty and students to attend the seminars, but also to suggest topics for conversation, or to lead us in a particular discussion of interest.

Among the topics of discussion are:

  • Modernity’s “others,” and the value of the category “premodern” in relation to alternatives such as “unmodern” or “amodern.” What is the premodern exactly, and what is the best way to define the conceptual space of our consortium?
  • Geographies, and the role of globalizing processes (Western imperialism, capitalism, migration, scientization, etc.) in the spatial and temporal configuration of the premodern (amodern/unmodern). How do we think the premodern (amodern/unmodern) in global terms without deploying Eurocentric geographies?
  • History, as an agent of, or analytic frame for, the premodern (amodern/unmodern). This includes among its sub-topics:
    • Periodization, and the value of terms like “antiquity,” “classical,” medieval,” and “early modern” for thinking global history (or history globally). Must the premodern (amodern/unmodern) be periodized in this way, and what alternative periodizations are possible?
    • Narratives, such as the Mongol invasion or the Black Death, the Renaissance or the Enlightenment, or the Columbian Encounter or Scientific/Industrial Revolutions, as solutions (or not) for situating the premodern (amodern/unmodern) in time and history. Must the premodern (amodern/unmodern) have a moment of beginning or end?
    • Universalism, as reality, as project, and as contingent mode of historiography. Is there one or many histories of the global premodern (amodern/unmodern)?
    • Historical epistemologies, including the alternatives to history and the “tyranny of historicism.” Can the premodern (amodern/unmodern) be something other than a before slotted in sequential relation to the world of today?
  • Research methods for using the premodern (amodern/unmodern) to interrogate and illuminate multidisciplinary scholarly research. How is the study of (literature, religion, art, science, politics, society, etc.) shaped by its situation within the analytic of the global premodern (amodern/unmodern)? And how are the categories of this research (gender, the body, textuality, aesthetics, race, the visual, knowing, power, performance, etc.) reanimated through deployment of this framework?

If you would like to get involved, please contact us at