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Some notes on Zygmunt Bauman’s lecture, ‘What makes a hero?’

poznanThose more familiar with Zygmunt Bauman’s work may have recognised Wednesday’s lecture at the Howard Assembly Room as a very slight variation on a theme developed in the second chapter of Liquid Life (2005), entitled ‘From Martyr to Hero, and From Hero to Celebrity’. This should probably not come as too much of a surprise. As Bauman (2012: 3) has recently confessed, “a new topic for scrutiny … is no longer on my cards.” However, this in no way denigrates the content of the lecture itself, which provided an opportunity for both new readers of Bauman, and those who have been reading his work for many years, to hear him lecture on a topic which seldom makes its way into the critical commentaries: heroism. In fact, due to Bauman’s immense output (over thirty books since his retirement in 1990, and even more articles and interviews), even for those long-term readers it must no doubt have been refreshing to be reminded of aspects of his thought that had either been entirely forgotten, or quite simply passed over. Continue reading

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William Outhwaite, David Held and an honourable mention

I have recently got involved in helping with a politics module on Critical Theory and was delighted to see William Outhwaite featured in the reading list. William was my external examiner in 1989 for my PhD and I have very fond memories of the viva, his support, encouragement and the interest he showed for my work. What my thesis was about will be another story for a long winter’s night. Also on the reading list, along with the usual suspects, is Zygmunt Bauman and David Held. I thought you might be interested in this recent nterview with David in which he gives Zygmunt and honourable mention.

“Zygmunt Bauman, the sociologist, writes brilliantly about the way in which the concept of Utopia has increasingly lost its historical meaning. Utopia was a concept which, in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries, was evoked to help imagine a different kind of collective governance – a progressive ideal, which could be applied to the world we lived in and to inspire people to perhaps change the nature of their material social circumstances. But, whereas once Utopia was a notion which inspired collective solutions, Bauman says that increasingly today, Utopia means an individual option, an individual exit strategy from the world in which we live”.

Interview with David Held, conducted by Bram Gieben, The Open University, Scotland, and author of the Models of Democracy study guide. 19th May, 2006

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