World Picture Conference: Value

When and Where

Friday, November 08, 2019 9:30 am to Saturday, November 09, 2019 9:30 pm
2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Akira Lippit (USC)
Elizabeth Rottenberg (DePaul University)


The theme of this year’s conference is “value.” It is not for us a question of what we value, but about the nature and the stakes of valuation itself—about what it might mean, at this point in the 21st century, to “revalue and reverse ‘eternal values,’” as Nietzsche once described the task of philosophy (Beyond Good and Evil, §203). How might we understand value, for instance, once we have dispensed with the modern conception of judgement? Can one value, can something have a value, without criteria? Is a radical psychic investment in something more separable from value than judgment? And is the idea of value itself separable from the processes of reification, accumulation, and specification that have thus far made it so fundamental to the racialized logics of capitalism and biocentric dysselection (to borrow a term from Sylvia Wynter)?

However we might answer these questions, we believe that asking them requires that we also consider whether we can intervene in modes of valuation politically without a conception of value in place. So many of the decisions we make and the actions we perform—whether voluntary or involuntary, whether psychic, political, moral, aesthetic, erotic, or all of these things all at once—would seem to follow from a sense, however discontinuous it may at times be, of value. This is true even if we act precisely in order to dispense with a way of being that follows from a mode of valuation. In keeping with this line of consideration, then, we are interested in papers that take on the difficulty of valuation in some way—papers that address the tensions within and across modes and experiences of valuation. For example, when we decide or declare what matters to us—what something is worth, so to speak—the moral or ethical claim that we want to make cannot always be easily separated from financial logics of comparison and exchange. Likewise, in the context of the university, the question of value is as important as it is vexed. At the very same time that the university is becoming decolonized, it is also becoming increasingly subject not only to the corporate logics of valuation that drive it, but to the para-institutional corporations that dictate the truth of these logics in obscurity. Something similar could be said of the modern geopolitical order: the rise of global capital has effectively obliterated the relatively coherent national “economies” of Western imperial power and the resources they once commanded, but the dissemination of economic value that has attended this development has only intensified the economic rationalization of both citizenship and existence more broadly, sparking movements of mass migration, exploitation and environmental ruin that can no longer appeal with much force to the discourses of ethical and moral value that once helped ground them in that same order.

Do we not, then, need to find our way out of the either/or, yes/no understanding of value, lest we assume that all developments emerge from the same source? Is there, to borrow a term from Derrida, an aneconomic value or mode of valuation? We are open to a host of ideas about value: the relation of value to truth and objectivity; forms of aesthetic appreciation that cross into other forms of valuation; value as the unspoken arbiter of interdisciplinary research; valuation as the unspoken arbiter of ontological dysselection; the university as the groundless ground of valuation; and whatever in value else seems worth fighting either for or over to you.

Friday, November 8


Innis Town Hall
Keynote: Elizabeth Rottenberg (DePaul University), “The Value of Jewish Jokes in Freud: Making the Case for Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.”


Innis Town Hall
William Davis (The Colorado College), “On the Value of the Valueless Aesthetic”
Eugenie Brinkema (MIT), “Against Valuable Formalism (On Catastrophe and Color)”
John Paul Ricco (University of Toronto), “The Value and Virtue of Disappearance”
Lauren Cramer (University of Toronto), “Improper Blackness: An Aesthetic for Nothing”

Bhaskar Sarkar (University of California Santa Barbara), “Piracy and the Question of Value”
Jessica Ruffin (UC Berkeley), “Between Land and Sea: Ethical Receptivity and Mythical Imagination”
Brian Jacobson (University of Toronto), “Gas, Gold, and Greenbacks: On Yves Klein’s Intrinsic Value of Matter”
Laura Kalba (Smith College), “Economic Primitivism: The Collection, Study, and Display of Bracelets, Beads, Buttons, and Other So-Called Odd and Curious Monies”


Lunch for all registered participants, served in the lobby in front of IN-222


Olga Blackledge (University of Pittsburgh), “On Aesthetic, Narrative, and Ideological Values of the
Ornamental in Animation”
Philippe Theophanidis (York University), “Work Beyond Value: The Image in Giorgio Agamben’s Thought”
John David Rhodes (University of Cambridge), “The Value of the Prop” 

Ruochen Bo (University of Toronto), “The Silent, Mediated and Forgotten in Affirming Life: Thinking Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Cinematic Historiography with Nietzsche”
Caitlyn Doyle (Northwestern University), “Counter-Dreaming: The Revaluations of Indigenous Cinema”
Jean Ma (Stanford University), “The Promise of Sleep”


René Thoreau Bruckner (Columbia College Hollywood), “Klatch Value”
Eric Herhuth (Tulane University), “The Valuation of Conscience”
Timothy Holland (Emory University), “Beyond Belief”

Dan McFadden (University of Toronto), “Re-Evaluation: The Politics and Culture of YouTube “AESTHETICS”
Martin Blumenthal-Barby (Rice University), “The Exemplarity of Particulars”
Mingyi Yu (Harvard University), “Must bias imply correctness? A critical history of judgment, 1954/1974”

Saturday, November 9


Innis Town Hall
Keynote: Akira Mizuta Lippit (University of Southern California), “‘Like Cats and Dogs,’ Catastrophic Syntax”


Alessandra Raengo (Georgia State University), “Dope Shit and White Sublime: The Story of AJ”
Sara Saljoughi (University of Toronto), “Incommensurate Futures and the Value of Valuation”
Elizabeth Wijaya (University of Toronto), “Someone, Somewhere, Somehow, and the Conundrum of Chinese Cinema”

Alessandro Brunazzo (Yale University), “The Value of Populism: Pasolini and the Voice of the People”
Kalling Heck (Louisiana State University), “When is Populist Cinema?”
Kyle Stevens (Appalachian State University), “Drowning in Humor”


Lunch for all participants, served in the lobby in front of IN-222.


Laurel Ahnert (Northeastern University), “Catastrophic Equivalence in ‘Post-Truth’ Documentary”
Scott Durham (Northwestern University), “‘Que chaque oeil négocie pour lui-même’: Equality and Equivalence in the Politics of Aesthetics”
Jenny Gunn (Georgia State University), “Flat on Our Faces: The Face as Value Form in Digital Culture”

Beth Capper (University of Alberta), “Social Reproduction and Resistance Beyond Refusal in Fronza Woods’ Fannie’s Film
Veronica Fitzpatrick (Cornell University), “Squinting at Death: Midsommar and Ragnar Kjartansson’s Death is Elsewhere
Jennifer Pranolo (Haverford College), “The Unbodied Spectator”


Scott Krzych (Colorado College), “Falling Subjects, Elevated Objects, and Other Tipping-Points”
Ganga Rudraiah (University of Toronto), “The Value in Spill(ing): Speculative Notes on ‘Cinedance’ and Cinematic Motion”
John Winn (Duke University), “Embryonic Cinema: The Technological Dynamics of Epigenesis in the Busby Berkeley Musical”

Lawrence Alexander (University of Cambridge), “Face Value? Metaphor and Metalepsis in Harun Farocki’s Interface and The Expression of Hands
Adam Kildare Cottrel (Georgia Gwinnett College), “The Anti-Parachute Theory: On the Ecstasy of Abandonment, the Value of Coats, and Robert Schwentke’s Der Hauptmann”
Ryan Pierson (University of Calgary), “Design as Democracy: Little Magazines and Vachel Lindsay’s Film Theory”


Mal Ahern (University of Washington), “The Gold Diggers: Beauty and Accumulation”
Terrance McDonald (Brock University), “Processes of Desire in Sook-Yin Lee's Year of the Carnivore (2009)”
Erin Nunoda (University of Toronto), “The Value of Sex?: On Queerness and the Undesirable”

Benjamin Crais (Duke University), “The Logistical Image: On Flatness, Quantification, and Management”
Patrick Smith (Concordia University), “Value, Violence and the Counter Logistic Project”
Matthew Stoddard (University of Toronto), “The Banal Cronenberg”


Contact Information

Prof. Brian Price


2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5