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How to Live with Others

How to Live with Others: A History of Interpersonal Distance

A PAL Forum presentation by visiting scholar Corina Stan

Response by Heather Wallace, PAL Assistant, Duke Philosophy, PhD Candidate.

Tues. Feb 10
5:30pm
Reception at 5pm
FHI Garage
Smith Warehouse, Bay 4
Duke University

Parking is free at Smith Warehouse after 5pm.

How can we live with others? What is the right distance between oneself and other people? How can we achieve sociability without alienation and solitude without exile? When Roland Barthes raised these questions in his last lectures at the Collège de France, he concluded that “we need a science, or perhaps an art, of distances.” As it turns out, the question of the right distance – in friendship, in community, in everyday life – has preoccupied philosophers, sociologists, political theorists,  psychoanalysts, and writers from Aristotle to the present day. In this talk, I shall sketch out a brief history of interpersonal distance, showing how this question, and the vocabulary it gives rise to, came to be instrumental in framing reflections on the ethical life, crowd behavior, the relationship between ethics and politics, and certain forms of cultural critique.

CORINA STAN has taught comparative literature at Leiden University College the Hague, where she also directed the Brill-Nijhoff Writing Institute. She is currently completing a book manuscript on forms of community in twentieth-century fiction.

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