Conference - Stanley Cavell: A Retrospective

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan

Stanley Cavell: A Retrospective

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan

Palazzo Arese-Borromeo, Cesano Maderno

September 23rd- 24th 2021


Organizing Institution: Centro ICONE / Facoltà di Filosofia

Organizers: Raffaele Ariano (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan),
Paolo Babbiotti (University of Turin).




The conference will take place physically at Palazzo Arese-Borromeo in Cesano Maderno (25 minutes from the city center of Milan), but will also be streamed on Microsoft Teams.

To attend online, click on the following links:


Aula 6 (Room 6):


Aula 7 (Room 7): 





ROOM 6 - 9.30-10.00

Opening Remarks


10.00 -11.00 Keynote address

Stephen Mulhall (University of Oxford):Scepticism and Modernism, Philosophy and Literature


11.00 – 11.15

Coffee break


ROOM 6 11.15 – 12.30

Improvisation and Performance

Davide Sparti (Università di Siena): Projective Imagination. Cavell and the Improvisatory Dimension of Language

David Sebastiani (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa): Release Formulae: Poetry and the Dream of Spontaneity

David Rudrum (University of Huddersfield): Stanley Cavell and Performance Philosophy


ROOM 7 11.15 – 12.30

Literature and Scepticism

Lyra Koli (University of Pardubice): Stanley Cavell’s Untouchable Othello: Scepticism and Suspension of Disbelief

Paul Jenner (University of Loughborough): Scepticism and the Ordinary in Stanley Cavell and Marilynne Robinson

Ingeborg Löfgren (Uppsala University): Truth in Skepticism and the Truth in Formalism: Stanley Cavell, Cleanth Brooks, and the Acknowledgment of Interpretative Vulnerability



Lunch break


ROOM 6 - 14.00-15:45


Catherine Wheatley (King’s College): Coming to Wonder: Stanley Cavell and Film’s Renewal of Vision

Emiliano Morreale (La Sapienza di Roma)/ Simona Busni (Università della Calabria): Stanley Cavell, Philosopher of Melodrama

Andrea Vailati (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan): The ethopoietic of acknowledgment: Cavell’s Hollywood comedy of remarriage meets Foucault’s Hermeneutics of the subject 


Room 7 - 14.00-15:45

Ethics and Politics

Luigi Corrias (VU University Amsterdam): Acknowledgement after Dehumanization: Cavell and an Ethos of Reconciliation

Timur Uçan (Bordeaux Montaigne University): Climate Justice, Skepticism and Perfectionism

Baptiste Cornardeau (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): The Limits of Practice. Stanley Cavell, Pragmatism, and the Value of Action



Coffee Break


ROOM 6 - 16.00-18.00

Forms of Life

Franco La Cecla (NABA/ IULM): The influence of Cavell on Anthropology, with Special Reference to Veena Das

Viktor Johansson (Södertörn University Stockholm): An Exercise in Sámi Philosophising: Indigeneity, the Young Child, and an Ethics of Cultural Translation

Niklas Forsberg (University of Pardubice): Two Historical Periods Within One Human Breast

Andrea di Gesù (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa/ Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): Cavell, Wittgenstein and the Possibility of an Ecological Biopolitics


ROOM 7 - 16.00-18.00


Francesco Gandellini (University of Southampton): Between Transcendental and Grammatical. Cavell Reader of Kant

Rico Gutschmidt (University of Konstanz): Cavell and Theology. Skepticism and the Fallen State of Mankind

Pioter Shmugliakov (Freie Universität Berlin): Cavell and Evental Thought

Filippo Casati (Lehigh University): A Cavellian Solution to a Heideggerian Problem



Ristorante "Il Fauno"

Conference dinner

(Hotel Parco Borromeo, Piazza Ercole Procaccini, Cesano Maderno MB)


ROOM 6 -9.30-10.30 Keynote address

Sandra Laugier (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne):Reinventing Ordinary Language Philosophy



Coffee break


ROOM 6 - 10.45 – 12.30

Criticism, Literary Theory, and the Novel

Rachel Malkin (University of Oxford): Stanley Cavell’s Critical Afterlives

Athanassia “Nassia” Williamson (New York University): Skepticism and the Novel: A Dialogue

Christopher Fenwick (Freie Universität Berlin): Stanley Cavell and Ethical Criticism


ROOM 7 - 10.45 – 12.30

Language and the Ordinary

Yo-ran Yang (Georgetown University): The Sense of Therapy: Reflections on Glück and Cavell

Philip Mills (University of Lausanne): Poetic Perlocutions: Poetry after Cavell after Austin

Francesco Pesci (University of Illinois at Chicago): Cavell on the Distinctiveness of Moral Language



Lunch break


ROOM 6 - 14.00 – 15.45

Morality and Perfectionism

Piergiorgio Donatelli (Università degli Studi “La Sapienza” di Roma): Filming democracy: reciprocity and irony

Matteo Falomi (University of Essex): The Paradox of Reading

Léa Boman (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Université): Emerson’s Claim for Inconsistency: Moral Perfectionism and Rationality in Cavell’s Philosophy”

Sasha Blickhan (Munich School of Philosophy): Taking Ethics Personally: Perspectival Virtue Ethics


ROOM 7 - 14.00 – 15.45

Cinema: Reprise

Domenico Spinosa (Università degli Studi dell’Aquila): Not only Wittgenstein and Thoreau. About some philosophical and literary refractions in The World Viewed

Michael Raeber (UCLA/ University of Zurich): Democratic Visibility: The import of Cavell’s aesthetics of film to a political philosophy of democratic visibility

Michelle Devereaux (University of Warwick), Orders from an Unborn Baby: Maternal Scepticism, Vengeance and Voicelessness in Alice Lowe’s Prevenge

Peter Hajnal (Warsaw University), Tact, Touch, and Playfulness: Anti-Cartesian Concepts for a Materialist

Aesthetics of Digital Media



Coffee break


ROOM 6 - 16.00-18.00

Aesthetic Judgment and Criticism

Zed Adams (New School for Social Research)/ Nat Hansen (University of Reading): The Hope of Agreement: Cavell on Aesthetic Judgment

Andrea Maistrello (University of Padua / Free researcher): Ordinary vs Commonplace: Cavell and Danto on Everydayness and Art

Lisa McKeown (New School for Social Research): Acknowledging Passionate Utterances


ROOM 7 - 16.00-18.00

Becoming Who One Is

Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore College): Cavell and the Achievement of Selfhood

David LaRocca: Reflexiveness and Self-Reflection in Cavell’s Memoir

Garry L. Hagberg (Bard College): Stanley Cavell, the Language of Selfhood, and his Writings on Henry James


Call for papers


Two years have passed since his death, and Stanley Cavell’s figure keeps growing in stature for philosophy, the humanities and the humanistic social sciences of our time. Courses and conferences devoted to his work have been and are being held regularly in universities all over the globe, while the amount of scholarly work on him shows no sign of diminishing. It is not only that few recent thinkers can count within their oeuvre masterworks of the importance of The Claim of Reason and The World Viewed. It is not even just the breadth of his research interests – encompassing topics as varied as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Shakespeare, film, democracy, education and literature, to name just a few – that makes Cavell’s production so significant. It is his capacity to delve deeply into the technical debates of academic philosophy and humanities whilst, at the same time, attaining a truly distinctive voice. His prominence is due not only to his work as a scholar, but also as a writer and intellectual. For such reasons, Cavell invites us to problematize and reinvent philosophy in a manner important to our academic institutions as well as our society at large.

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan, in partnership with the art and design museum Triennale di Milano, will host a two-day interdisciplinary international conference on Cavell’s philosophy and figure. The call for papers encourages a variety of approaches and contributions, addressing scholars in the fields of history of philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, political theory and philosophy of language, as well as those working in film studies, comparative literature, North American studies, gender studies, visual and cultural studies, intellectual history and history of ideas. The aim of the conference will be not only to deepen the present understanding of Cavell’s thought through the analysis and interpretation of specific aspects of his production, but also to open new lines of interaction with other thinkers and topics both within and beyond the academic study of philosophy.


The conference will be structured around thematic sessions.

Topics of interest for submission include, but are not limited to:

  • America and transcendentalism: Emerson, Thoreau and beyond.
  • Inheriting a method? Cavell’s Austin.
  • Inheriting a method? A therapeutic reading of Wittgenstein.
  • Wittgenstein, criteria and skepticism.
  • Parallels and contrasts: Cavell’s reading of Heidegger, Lévinas, Rawls, Derrida…
  • Voices and styles: Cavell vs romanticism, pragmatism, ordinary language philosophy, deconstruction, post-modernism, etc.
  • Cavell and psychoanalysis
  • Cavell’s theory of modernism in music, theater, and the visual arts.
  • Cavell’s Shakespeare between skepticism, tragedy and comedy.
  • Cavell and film studies (ontology and realism, genre, ethics, television, close-analysis of individual films, etc.)
  • Cavell and gender studies
  • Philosophy and education.
  • Ethics and politics (perfectionism, agreement, giving reasons, rules and foundations, etc.)
  • “Analytic” and “continental”: past, present, and future of a (supposed) divide.

Please send your proposals (max. 300 words) and a short bio (max. 150 words) to by May 1, 2021