Inaugural Lectures

Jean-François Lyotard for beginners: ‘inopportune, unseemly, and even disquieting…’

  • 18.00 - 19.00
  • 10 Apr 2024
  • Lecture Theatre B, Rose Bowl, City Campus
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Jean-François Lyotard for beginners: ‘inopportune, unseemly, and even disquieting…’
Professor Kiff Bamford gives a short introduction to the work of the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard and why it’s been important to his thinking on art, performance, philosophy and writing.

I keep coming back to Lyotard’s writings, his provocations and mischievous dialogues. He did more than just write about art. He wrote with works and was transformed by them: you could almost say he performed with them. It is this process of challenge and transformation I want to convey in this lecture, aimed at beginners and sceptics alike.

I will give a brief overview of Lyotard’s life and the cultural contexts of his work, drawing both on my recent research and the short biography written for the series Critical Lives. This will be augmented by the presentation of a more personal project: an attempt to work my way into some of his last writings through a process of drawing, working through the repetition of similar motifs in a manner which isn’t there yet but which entails searching, slowly for that which is ‘inopportune, unseemly, and even disquieting…’.

Professor Kiff Bamford

Professor Kiff Bamford is an artist and academic, currently Professor of Art and Philosophy in the Leeds School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University. He has published widely on the work of French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard with a focus on the inter-relationship between art, performance and philosophy.

Books include Lyotard and the ‘figural’ in Performance, Art and Writing (2012) and Jean-François Lyotard: Critical Lives (2017). Editorial work includes collating, introducing, and editing Jean-François Lyotard: The Interviews and Debates (2020) and, with Professor Robert Harvey, the first complete English translation of Lyotard’s Lectures d’enfance (1991) published in 2023 by Bloomsbury as Readings in Infancy. He co-edited the collection Lyotard and Critical Practice (2023) with Professor Margret Grebowicz and is currently preparing the volume Jean-François Lyotard: The Later Interviews and Debates. In a new project, he is working with Peter W. Milne (Seoul National University) researching connections and disagreements between Lyotard and Jacques Derrida.

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