Founded in 2014 Laboratory of the Contemporary Humanities is a research group within the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Wrocław. Through its research and – since 2016/2017 – also teaching activities, the Laboratory provides a place where faculty members as well as PhD candidates and students can work together, adding to the humanistic knowledge. It favours openness and aims to cross the disciplinary and institutional boundaries, collaborating also with non-affiliated scholars and curators (for instance, we have collaborated extensively with the WRO Art Center). The Lab promotes a distinctive mode of work, untypical for traditional university setting, cherishing the supportive, non-hierarchical ties and fostering irrepresible curiosity for the contemporariness (which to us means not only ‘the new and cutting edge’ , but also pertains to long-ago texts and old ideas, still captivating our minds).
We understand “the humanities laboratory” as a mode of knowing, assuming that it does not serve as a mere imitation of the science lab but rather has its own history. The latter can be traced back to the pre-modern and early modern alchemy labs and cabinets of curiosities and to the initiatives considered as touchstones for the modern humanities – like Aby Warburg’s laboratory of Bildgeschichte, Laboratory of Social Anthropology by Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Laboratory Theatre of Jerzy Grotowski.
Philosophically attuned and deeply interested in boosting ‘theoretical imagination’, we strive to follow the contemporary debates in the humanities and explore its most influential ideas and methodologies (our first project focused on the Actor-Network Theory and its implications for the cultural studies). Adopting the meta-humanistic perspective of the reflective humanities (that is, the humanities that establish themselves as the subject of research and actively react to modern challenges), we also aim to investigate the epistemological status of the humanities laboratory and to shed some light on the observed ‘laboratorization’ of the humanities.
In our projects we reflect on various phenomena of heteregenous nature – such as drones, post-secularism, and Anthropocene – which lend themselves to cultural analysis and call for experimental, innovative research frameworks. While drawing our immediate attention and posing vital questions, these problems are also challenging in the way they demand greater humanist’s engagement and thus make the boundaries between the inside and the outside of the laboratory even more fluid.
– Aleksandra Kil is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies at the University of Wrocław. In 2017/2018 she is a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at the New York University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research is concentrated on the question of how the humanities scholars know what they know, that is, how media technologies they use can affect the process of knowledge-making. Co-author of the book Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe and a co-editor of Kultura nie-ludzka (Non-human Culture), the issue of „Prace Kulturoznawcze”. E-mail address: : firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Jacek Małczyński is an assistant professor at the Institute of Cultural Studies at University of Wrocław. He is interested in contemporary cultural theory (e.g. the environmental humanities, the posthumanities, memory studies). He is a co-editor of Kultura nie-ludzka (Non-human Culture), the special issue of „Prace Kulturoznawcze” (2015) and a guest editor of Historia środowiskowa Zagłady (An Enviromental History of the Holocaust), the issue of „Teksty Drugie” (2017). In our Lab he coordinates the Anthropocene project. Contact: : email@example.com
– Rafał Nahirny is an assistant professor at the Institute of Cultural Studies at UWr. He wrote a book on microhistory and the limits of the humanistic understanding of a individual man. Currently interested in new technologies in the context of ethics and aesthetic of privacy [contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, academia.edu].
– Joanna Sieracka is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Cultural Studies, University of Wrocław. As a recipient of the Erasmus Programme she studied Gender Studies at the University of Utrecht. Her current research focuses on the issue of cultural specificity of postfeminism in Poland. She can be contacted at email@example.com and https://wroc.academia.edu/JoannaSieracka.
– Renata Tańczuk, professor, Chair in the Section of Cultural Practices Research at the Institute of Cultural Studies, the University of Wrocław. Member of the Committee on Cultural Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Soundscape Research Studio, and the editorial board of the Polish Soundscape Journal Soundscape. Areas of interest: material culture and collecting as well as sound and soundscape studies. The author of Ars colligendi, kolekcjonowanie jako forma aktywności kulturalnej (Ars colligendi. Collecting as a form of cultural activity ) and The horror of natural history collections. A co-author and co-editor of books: Audiosfera miasta (The Urban Audiosphere), Audiosfera Wrocławia (The Audiosphere of Wrocław), Audiosfera. Studia (Audiosphere. Studies).
– Dorota Wolska: Head of Laboratory. She is a professor at the Institute of Cultural Studies at the University of Wrocław, Chair of Theory of Culture Section at the Institute, Editor of “Prace Kulturoznawcze”. Her area of research is: philosophy of humanities, theory of culture and aesthetics. She has recently published a book Odzyskać doświadczenie (To Recover Experience) and co-edited Kultura nieludzka (Non-human Culture), the special issue of „Prace Kulturoznawcze”. firstname.lastname@example.org
– Magdalena Zamorska is a Ph.D graduate in Humanities (2012) and an assistant professor at the Institute of Cultural Studies at University of Wroclaw (Poland). Her interests include new choreography, issues of perception and reception in choreographic performances, exploring the intersections of dance, science and technology. She published a monograph about butoh dance in Poland (Obecni ciałem. Warsztat polskich tancerzy butō 2014) and prepared a report on the subject of dance and multimedia performances in Poland for the Polish Institute of Music and Dance. Her book and papers are available here: https://wroc.academia.edu/MagdalenaZamorska
Past and Ongoing Projects:
– Culture, politics and values: Actor-Network Theory and the contemporary humanities (2014-2015, seminars, conference and a journal issue Non-human Culture)
– What do the drones want? Technology, ethics and art (2015-2016, seminars, conference and an edited volume
– Religion, (Post-)Secularism, and Culture. Transdisciplinary Perspective (2015, seminars, international conference and a forthcoming publication)
– Welcome to the Anthropocene (2016-2017, seminars and a forthcoming publication)
– The humanities laboratory as a mode of knowing. From archaeology to a project (2017, grant proposal submitted to NCN OPUS 2017).
– Prof. Olivier Roy (European University Institute), keynote lecture “Why Religion Matters More Than Ever in a Secular Western Society?” (November 2015)
– Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago), keynote lecture “Climate Change and the Humanities”, Visiting Professors Program sponsored by the City of Wrocław (October 2016)
– Dr Harald Wydra (University of Cambridge), keynote lecture “The Cultural Sources of Politics: Reflections on Violence in a World Without Limits” and a week-long seminar, Visiting Professors Program sponsored by the City of Wrocław (December 2016)
– Prof. Dorota Głowacka (University of King’s College, Halifax), keynote lecture “Taboo or Ignorance? Sexual Violence as a Tool of War and Genocide” (May 2017)
– Prof. Alan Liu (University of California, Santa Barbara), keynote lecture “Key Trends in the Digital Humanities”, Visiting Professors Program sponsored by the City of Wrocław (June 2017)