Studio 08: The Liminal

Studio brief

This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines. You will be assisted to develop a topic of your choice in a chosen field that relates to the liminal – it might be a transitional process, or avant-garde’s edge, or thresholds of experience or designed space. You might consider the hypnagogic’s role in ritual or creative practice, or consider the aesthetics of the indeterminate object or outcome, or practices that focus specifically on boundaries or outline or limits.

When thinking of liminality, you might think of Junichiro Tanazaki talking of deeply-felt shadows; Marjorie Perloff revelling in indeterminacy; Anne Carson questioning the audibility of women; Martin Heidegger wondering by what language we could know ourselves if we crossed beyond the line. Georges Bataille doesn’t believe in limits – we should accelerate to excess; James Turrell deals in transitions in half-light; William Burroughs slices and dices; for Slavoj Zizek we can really only see things whilst looking at them awry. Our world demands the clarity of harsh outlines, but this only serves to underline the importance of the in-between and the indistinct. Each week we will consider different permutations of the rich history of creative work around the liminal as it occurs across disciplines, and we might consider as part of your research an installation at C4RD in Highbury.

Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities 

  • Berardi, Franco “Bifo”, Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility (London: Verso, 2017)  
  • Brown, Wendy, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (New York: Zone Books, 2010) 
  • Carson, Anne, ‘The Gender of Sound’, in Glass, Irony and God (New York: New Direction Books, 1995) 
  • Haraway, Donna, ’A Cyborg Manifesto’, in D Bell and M Kennedy (eds), The Cyberculture Reader (London: Routledge, 2000) 
  • Heidegger, Martin, ‘On the Question of Being (1955)’ in Pathmarks. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)  
  • Hollander, Dana, ‘Barthes and Derrida on the Limits of Representation’, in Wilhelm Wurzer, Panorama: Philosophies of the Visible (London: Continuum, 2002) 
  • Nancy, Jean-Luc, The Birth to Presence (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993)  
  • Perloff, Majorie, The Poetics of Indeterminacy (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1999) 
  • Tanizaki, Junichiro, In Praise of Shadows (Chicago: Leete’s Island Books, 1977)  
  • Weizman, Eyal, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (New York: Zone Books, 2017)


Studio 08


Tutor Andrew Hewish

Dissertation studios


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