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Diprose named first WBFO-Silvers Visiting Professor

By PATRICIA DONOVAN

Published August 14, 2014

The College of Arts and Sciences and its Humanities Institute has named Rosalyn Diprose, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of New South Wales and an internationally recognized scholar of feminist and continental philosophy, its inaugural WBFO-Eileen Silvers Visiting Professor in the Arts and Humanities.

Rosalyn Diprose

Rosalyn Diprose

Diprose will hold the visiting professorship from Aug. 26 through Oct. 6, during which time she will be involved in several activities. Among them is “Biopolitics, Health and Sexualities: An Interdisciplinary Symposium with Rosalyn Diprose,” a free public event presented by UB that will take place from 1-4:45 p.m. Sept. 5 at Hallwalls Center for Contemporary Arts, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

She also will present a free public lecture, “The Body and Politics,” at 5 p.m. Sept. 25 in 640 Clemens Hall, UB North Campus, and team-teach a graduate seminar, “Arendt: Natality, Politics and Narrative.”

Much of Diprose’s published research, which has had a broad impact across disciplines, applies concepts from 20th-century, existential and feminist philosophy to the development of ideas of community, generosity and responsibility. She also addresses social and political issues, especially in biopolitics.
She challenges the accepted model of generosity, for instance. Whereas it is widely accepted as a common character trait that guides us to give something we possess to others in an exchange economy, Diprose argues that generosity is a politically sensitive act of  intercorporeal relations in which it is the self that is given to others.

She articulated this position in her 2002 book, “Corporeal Generosity: On Giving With Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty and Levinas” (SUNY Press).

Diprose also is the editor of “Merleau-Ponty: Key Concepts” (Routledge, 2008), a book of essays on the work of one of the most important figures in the modern European intellectual tradition. A phenomenological philosopher, teacher and editor, Maurice Merleau-Ponty was a contemporary of Sartre, de Beauvoir and Simone Weil, strongly influenced by Husserl and Heidegger. He held that the body is the primary site through which we know the world, in contrast to the tradition of placing consciousness as the source of knowledge. For Merleau-Ponty, then, meaning is constituted in human experience.

“She is a perfect choice for this position because her research embraces many humanities fields: social, ethical, feminist and political philosophy, and in particular theories of embodiment, bioethics and bio-politics, community, responsibility, sexual, racial and cultural differences,” says Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature, who currently is involved in a research collaboration with Diprose.

“In addition to her feminist philosophical involvement with such philosophers as Arendt, de Beauvoir, Derrida, Foucault, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty,” Ziarek says, “Diprose has written on such topics as medical technologies, risk management, film, Australian aboriginal art and ecology.”

Diprose was nominated for this professorship by Krzysztof Ziarek, professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, and was selected through a rigorous and highly competitive process.

The WBFO-Eileen Silvers Visiting Professorship program is funded by a bequest from Eileen Silvers, BA ’70, and proceeds from the sale of WBFO, UB’s National Public Radio station. It was established to bring world-class scholars, intellectuals and artists to UB for short-term residencies.