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March 19, 2019 | 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Category: Lecture
Location: Faculty/Administration #2339 | Map
656 W. Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Cost: Free
Audience: Academic Staff, Alumni, Community, Current Graduate Students, Current Undergraduate Students, Faculty

The Humanities Center is proud to present as a part of its Brown Bag Series, a talk by Lisabeth Hock, Associate Professor of German in Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Yoko Tawada’s 2014 novel, Etüden im Schnee, translated in 2016 by Susan Bernofsky as Memoirs of a Polar Bear, offers a narrative of globalization that challenges twenty-first-century racism and nationalism by decentering the essentialist ideas of the mother tongue and the biological mother. Memoirs tells the story of three generations of polar bears from their perspective. Removed from their arctic birthplace to perform in circuses and then in zoos, they serve as allegories for the stateless migrant and the racial other. Without roots, without an identity shaped by where they came from, they cannot and do not fetishize national and racial identity, and they see through the self-delusion of those whose sense of superiority is based in their sense of origin. Memoirs offers the argument that we are who we are neither because of the language we were born into and the national boundaries associated with that language, nor due to our biological mothers and the genetic lineage associated with them. Rather, we develop our identities through language formed by engagements with others and through communities and families formed through radical empathy, or what the novel depicts as a metaphorical motherhood created during moments of elective affinity.

These talks are free and open to the public! We also provide free coffee, tea, and cake!

For more information about this event, please contact Humanities Center at 3135775471 or