Bakhtin and the Human Sciences

Date / Time: 14 January 2014, 4.30pm
Venue: TA2.06, Faculty of Education (TC2.27)

The purpose of this seminar is to sketch out, in relatively general and programmatic terms, the relevance of Russian cultural theorist Mikhail Bakhtin for the elaboration of a post-­positivist human sciences, one that is premised on what Bakhtin himself called the ‘dialogical principle’. The key argument will be that Bakhtin has been under utilized in the social sciences in particular due to the serious challenge that a Bakhtinian dialogism presents to many of the key assumptions and methods of conventional social science. Michael will argue for a reconfigured mode of social and cultural inquiry along dialogical lines, taking into account Bakhtin’s seminal insights into three crucial areas: first, the notion of the human subject as ‘intersubject’; second, the inescapable centrality of the ethical moment in any form of social inquiry; and third, the possibility of a specifically dialogical form of ideological criticism, turning on what Michael has elsewhere termed an ‘everyday utopianism’. The seminar does not assume a specialist’s understanding of Bakhtin or dialogical thought, but is aimed at anyone interested in questions of ethics and social criticism in the conduct of socio-­cultural investigation.

Michael E.Gardiner
Professor of Sociology, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Professor Gardiner is the author of numerous books, journal articles and book chapters on dialogical social theory, ethics, everyday life and utopianism, concentrating in particular on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, Henri Lefebvre and Maurice Merleau-­Ponty.

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