In weekly Quixotic meetings, students discuss and debate a cultural object (e.g. a piece of writing, an artwork or a performance). In so doing, they expand their understanding of the diverse areas of knowledge that their peers are interested in. Any student can propose a topic for discussion.
We believe in rationality, tea and a barely controlled maelstrom of ideas.
Core Team: Ingrid Stevens, Philip Sänger, Radu Diaconescu
To propose a topic/cultural object for a discussion, to ask to be included in the mailing list, or for other contacting needs, reach out via
ucf.quixotic (at) protonmail.com .
Because of restrictions related to the Corona pandemic, our meet-ups have been moved to a video meeting room using Big Blue Button on our ILIAS page, which you can join here.
Quixotic meet-ups will return in the winter semester.
Quixotic #26: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Thursday, 7th of July 2022, 18:00,
The Reading Room Co-Creation Room at Alte Uni)
The 17th century epic “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes follows the adventures of an old man who, under the influence of romantic novels, proclaims himself a knight errant and begins a journey to return chivalry to a world become debauched and immoral. Terry Gilliam’s film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is a wild modern retelling of the story, in which Toby, the disillusioned director of a failing film about the original Don Quixote, is pulled into the world of the novel and becomes Sancho Panza, the knight’s glum squire. Their journey takes them through comically absurd adventures that blend reality and fantasy, and Toby’s cynicism starts being eroded by the knight’s idealism, even as the delusional ideas of chivalry are treated with irony. The movie is made in Terry Gilliam’s trademark witty, visually whimsical style, and stars Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce in the main roles. You can see the trailer here.
Chaired by: Philip and Radu
Quixotic #25: Can the Museum Be Decolonized? (Tuesday, 14th of June 2022, 19:00, The Common Room at Alte Uni)
Let’s talk museums! Next week, we will discuss a pressing duty of our much-beloved cultural institutions: (How) can museums decolonise?
Europe’s anthropology museums are undeniably rooted in colonial exploitation. An innumerable amount of cultural objects from around the world lies hidden in collections or is showcased in exhibitions, either stolen or purchased under questionable circumstances. In the last few years, some European museums have slowly started to respond to the decades-old call for repatriation of such objects. Still, the process is a very select and tediously bureaucratic one – only very few objects are actually claimed back. While some voices cry out in the fear of empty showcases and a loss of culture, others claim that even a more thorough repatriation would not be sufficient. Can repatriation be an answer to the problem of colonial legacy? Or is it impossible altogether to decolonise an institution as embedded into colonial power structures as the European museum? Is it even possible to exhibit something without exoticizing? Will an attempt at involving people from their objects’ culture of origin automatically lead to tokenism? Has the museum simply become obsolete in a postcolonial world?
We won’t come up with a perfect solution, but let’s discuss anyway. Feel free to share own experiences of museum visits, and not just the anthropological kind! Did you encounter traces of colonialism in a natural history or art museum? Do museums of certain exhibitions come to mind that openly tackled their legacy, or some which treated it very poorly?
[Readings for the session here and here.]
Chaired by: Lisa
Quixotic #24: The Co-Housing Movement (Thursday, 19th of May 2022, 19:00, Co-Creation Room at Alte Uni)
Cohousing is a set of practices to upend conventional accomodation. It refers to community housing owned by a cooperative, whose members are the residents, as a means of keeping homes affordable. It also refers to a model of living that involves tight-knit communities and shared resources, including gardens, cars and common rooms. It is an ambitious movement taking advantage of new (and very old) ideas to rethink the core assumptions of housing, in order to develop accomodation models that are sustainable, economically just, culturally rich and less lonely.
This Thursday’s roundtable discussion is all about where these high-minded ideals work, and where they fall short. Caren, who has recently returned from living in a cohousing project for 8 months, will be joining us to share her experiences and answer questions. See you all soon! 🙂
[Readings to prepare before the session: this video, this article and this article.]
Chaired by: Caren and Radu
Quixotic #23: Replika (Thursday, 5th of May 2022, 19:00, Alte Uni – The Common Room)
On Thursday, after a long pandemic-induced hiatus, we are returning to our wild in-person meetings. To kick off this semester, we will be experimenting live with an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) created by a company who is attempting to build artificial companions, friends, mentors and even lovers, to whom you can talk about your deepest desires, hopes and fears. We will talk to this AI, called Replika, in order to get a better understanding of how humans and social robots can interact; and we will start a conversation about our experience with this eerie, but very impressive technology. (There is no reading to prepare, but if you are curious to read about Replika, there are interesting articles here and here. )
Chaired by: Radu
Quixotic #22: feuer.zeug’s Indie Activist Pornography (Thursday, 18th of November 2021, 20:00, @aka Filmclub in the GHS Biologie)
On Thursday, the Aka Film Club is organizing a screening of indie alternative pornography in collaboration with the Freiburg start-up feuer.zeug. Alongside it, there will be a short talk and the opportunity to ask questions to members of feuer.zeug. We are meeting at 19:15 in front of GHS Biologie. The event is in German.
Hosted by: Aka Film Club
Quixotic #21: The Rise of the Computer-Generated Celebrity (Wednesday, 3rd of November 2021, 18:00, Online using Zoom)
In the last year or so, I’ve kept noticing people on the Internet mentioning Hololive. I got curious, and after looking it up, it turned out to be a “talent agency for virtual influencers”. This means online celebrities that perform on live streams as computer-generated avatars. Celebrities entirely constructed. They’ve rapidly become a huge cultural phenomenon (1.5 billion views on Youtube in 2020, collectively) that is at once very niche, and very big business. Since I knew nothing about this apparently huge and rather unique thing, I figured it could be interesting to dive in and see what the fuss is about. (Reading here. Must be read beforehand. Extra resources here and here.)
Chaired by: Radu
Quixotic #20: Return to the Common Room (Wednesday, 27th of October 2021, 16:00, @Common Room)
After over a year, our little reading & ranting group returns to in-person meet-ups. This Wednesday, we’ll be getting together to reconnect, welcome old and new faces, and gather around a surprise piece of culture brought by Philip to spark some interesting conversations.
Chaired by: Philip
Update: The surprise discussion topic revolved around the controversy in the deaf community regarding cochlear implants, and their belief that it might spell the death of deaf culture. Some resources on the topic are Andrew Solomon’s book “Far From the Tree”, this video and this video.
Quixotic #19: Unusual Poetry (Thursday, 3rd of June 2021, 20:30, Zoom)
For this Quixotic meeting we want to dive into POETRY. Not the stiff kind that you had to memorise and analyse in school though – we want to have a look on the poetry from today (and possibly tomorrow). Poetry has become so much more than simple rhymes on a sheet of paper, and we want to explore a couple of new forms that poetry can take on. Beyond the popular format of poetry slams we will discuss spoken word poetry, sign poetry and expression poetry. If you have a favourite poem that breaks with the traditional style, we highly encourage you to bring it with you so that we can discuss it together. If you feel comfortable, you are also welcome to bring an original work for us to appreciate! To prepare for our discussion, please check out some (or all) of these more popular works and pay attention to the different reactions they invoke in you.
“How to Succeed in Heartbreak” ; “OCD” ; “When Love Arrives”;“Mrs. Ribeiro”;Amanda Lovelace ; Rupi Kaur 1, 2, 3, 4 ; “Keep Moving Don’t Move” ; “People’s Faces”
Chaired by: Caren
Quixotic #18: The Female Gaze (Thursday, 20th of May 2021, 19:00, BigBlueButton)
Next week’s session will be about the female (or feminine) gaze in cinema or TV. The concept of the female gaze is the antithesis of the concept of the male gaze, which proposes that women in the visual arts and literature are frequently depicted from a male, heterosexual perspective for the viewing pleasure of the male audience. While the male gaze has become firmly established in feminist theory, the existence and the character of the female gaze remains disputed. As input we are using two short video essays, which introduce the concept and also provide some examples. You can find the videos here and here (if you don’t have time to watch both of them, you can also just watch the first one). You are also welcome to bring examples yourself of what you consider to be the female gaze in cinema or TV.
Chaired by: Johanna
Quixotic #17: Movie Night: Adam Curtis’ Can’t Get You Out of My Head (Saturday 24th of April 2021, 20:00, Kast.gg)
Adam Curtis is a one-of-a-kind filmmaker, known for his slightly trippy documentaries stitched together out of archival footage, with topics usually revolving around large-scale cultural and political change.
His latest six-episode series for the BBC, Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World (2021), explores an argument tying together the corruption of progressive radicalism, the failure of techno-utopianism and a fearful lack of vision for the future.
On Saturday, we will only watch episode 1.
After the film, we will of course be hanging out for a while to talk… and rant. 🙂
Chaired by: Radu
Special: The Big Random LAS Students’ Meet-Up (Wednesday 31st of March 2021, 17:00, Wonder Common Room)
Chaired by: –
Quixotic #16: Why I Hope to Die at 75 by E.J. Emanuel (Monday 22nd of March 2021, 17:00, Big Blue Button videocall on the ILIAS group)
Quixotic is back and this time we are knockin’ on heaven’s door, tackling one of life’s inevitabilities: Death. What is a good and meaningful death? What is its connection to ageing? How has the modern access to constant medical supervision in relatively private circumstances affected our relationship to death? These are just some of the questions we want to explore, with an essay by renown oncologist and bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel as the basis of our discussion. (Reading here. Must be read beforehand.)
Chaired by: Philip