KOLLEGIUM TALKS in March 2023: From unpleasant feelings to purposes of literature

The Helsinki Collegium hosts two Kollegium Talks events at Think Corner Stage in March 2023. The March 15 event explores the upsides of unpleasant feelings, and the March 29 event probes the value of literature by asking why two scholars working on Russia and the climate change center literature in their work.

Kollegium Talks is a discussion series hosted by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS) at Think Corner of the University of Helsinki. In each Kollegium Talk, Helsinki Collegium fellows and their guests discuss a topic that connects their research interests and opens fresh perspectives to the humanities and social sciences and to the world we live in. 

Join the debate at Think Corner Stage or via live stream at https://www.helsinki.fi/fi/tiedekulma/katso-ja-kuuntele! The discussions will also be recorded for later viewing and will be posted on the HCAS Youtube channel.


Kollegium Talks: What is Literature For?

March 29 at 5 pm, Think Corner Stage

Live stream: https://www.helsinki.fi/fi/tiedekulma/katso-ja-kuuntele

Speakers: Kristin Ferebee (HCAS) and Anatoly Pinsky (University of Helsinki) 


In October 2022, an editorial in the Los Angeles Times asked, "Where have all the English majors gone?" It's not just English, and it's not just in the United States – enrollment in the humanities is declining at universities around the world. Many students, driven to pragmatism by the reality of a world in crisis, see diminishing value in literature of any kind. This event brings together two scholars who view literature as vital to their work – and who discuss the broader vitality of literature in the context of our historical moment. Why would a scholar of Russian history and an environmental theorist, two people who engage with some of the most urgent issues facing our world today, center literature in their work? What does literature offer us in terms of confronting these issues?

Speaker Bios:

Kristin Ferebee is a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium. Her research focuses on the human/nonhuman boundary and the ways in which narratives mediate this boundary. Her current work examines Arctic narratives in the Anthropocene and the ways in which these narratives function to sustain fantasies of the human. She has previously worked with the climate change-focused Narrating the Mesh Project at Ghent University, and in Kabul at the American University of Afghanistan. 

Anatoly Pinsky is a Visiting Fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute. He is a historian of modern Russia and Europe and his research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of the Stalin- and post-Stalin-era Soviet Union. He is currently completing a book manuscript, tentatively titled, The Origins of the Thaw: Thought and Literature under Stalin and Khrushchev. His past work includes an edited volume, Posle Stalina: pozdnesovetskaia sub"ektivnost’ (1953–1985) [After Stalin: Subjectivity in the Late Soviet Union (1953–1985)], as well as articles on diaries, individuality, and tragedy in Russian history.


Kollegium Talks: Is There an Upside to Unpleasant Feelings? 

March 15 at 5 pm, Think Corner Stage (Yliopistonkatu 4)

Recording (available until March 29): https://youtu.be/m5bkD-YXlYs

Speakers: Anni Kajanus (University of Helsinki), Antti Kauppinen (University of Helsinki), Charlie Kurth (HCAS/Western Michigan University)


Irritation, anxiety, and anger are unpleasant to experience – this much is obvious. But might these feelings actually be good for us to have? For instance, might it be a good thing that we get irritated with our spouses, angry when someone scratches our car, and anxious about our upcoming job interview? This installment of the Kollegium Talks Series brings together three scholars to discuss whether there is an upside to feeling bad. How can unpleasant feelings be valuable and how are we to reconcile the good they might do with the problems they so often bring?  

Speaker Bios:

Anni Kajanus is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. She is a psychological anthropologist, working at the interfaces between culture and cognition, morality and cooperation. Kajanus has carried out comparative research on human cooperation, emotional life, child development and social organisation across different cultural contexts, including China, UK, US and Finland. Her most recent work focuses on the emotion of irritation as a mechanism of human sociality. 

Antti Kauppinen is Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on ethics, moral psychology, and epistemology. He has published several articles on the role of emotions in morality, as well as on specific morally tinged emotions, processes, and states, such as empathy, anger, blame, pride, admiration, suffering, and happiness. He is currently the PI of the Academy of Finland research project Responsible Beliefs: Why Ethics and Epistemology Need Each Other, and is working on a monograph about well-being, agency, and experience. 

Charlie Kurth is Professor of Philosophy at Western Michigan University and a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium. His research focuses on questions about the place of emotion in virtue and the good life. His recent work explores whether cultivating negative emotions like anxiety, disgust, and shame is central to our ability to become better, happier people. Charlie is the author of two books, The Anxious Mind and Emotion and more than 20 scholarly articles. He has also written essays on emotions in mainstream publications like The Washington PostScientific American, and Aeon.  

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