Papers from the Society for the Study of Biopolitical Futures

Convener: Cary Wolfe; Co-Conveners: Gregg Lambert and Frida Beckman

Life, in Theory: The 8th Meeting of the European Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Event Date: 03-Jun-2014

June 3 – 6, 2014

Università del Piemonte Orientale;
Torino: Università di Torino

“Papers from the Society for the Study of Biopolitical Futures,” (convener: Cary Wolfe; co-conveners: Gregg Lambert and Frida Beckman)

Life, in Theory: The 8th Meeting of the European Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Venues: Università del Piemonte Orientale, June 4; Torino: Università di Torino, June 5 and 6 

Life, in Theory

In the past forty years, research in genetics and genomics, the convergence of the latter with digital technology, and the intrusion of technology into all forms of life have called into question the idea that life is anything simple, natural or biological, and have made available knowledge and resources that may determine mutations or new aggregations in the constitutive elements of life forms and living systems, likely transforming the conditions of existence of life on the planet beyond reversibility.

Today, biopower is a crucial node of social transformation. It directly affects societies by interpreting and responding to their reproductive, medical, food-related needs, by redefining the notion of sustainability, by intercepting public and private funding, and by reorienting political aims and policies in ways that will heavily impact the future life of individuals, communities, and ecosystems.

The VIII European Meeting of the Society for the Study of Literature, Science, and the Arts aims to continue the conversation between science and the humanities on the implications for our projected futures of the manipulation, administration, and governance of life forms. The concept of life today no longer provides sufficient ontological ground to distinguish among different forms of life and to guide ethical, political, legal, or medical actions. Thus, a discussion across disciplinary forms of knowledge and theories of life, and the practices they authorize, is literally to confront issues of life and death.


Prof. CLAIRE COLEBROOK – Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Pennsylvania State University

Prof. ROBERTO ESPOSITO – Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, Vice Director, Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (SUM), Florence

Dott. GIUSEPPE TESTA – Head of Laboratory of Stem Cell Epigenetics/Head of the Unit on Science and Technology Studies, IEO, Milano

Prof. PAOLO VINEIS – Chair of Environmental Epidemiology, Imperial College, London

Prof. CARY WOLFE – Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English; Founding Director of the 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory, Rice University

DORION SAGAN – Author of Notes from the Holocene and Cosmic Apprentice

CLAUDIA BORDESE – Science writer, author of Wild Sex. When nature Loves and A Life at Others’ Expense. Eulogy of Parasitism



Prof. TIMOTHY CAMPBELL – Professor of Italian Studies, Chair of Romance Studies, Cornell University

Prof. SANDRA D'ALFONSO – Professors of Genetics and Genomics, Università del Piemonte Orientale

Prof. UMBERTO DIANZANI – Professor of Immunology, Università del Piemonte Orientale

Prof. GREGG LAMBERT – Founding Director Center for the Humanities, Syracuse University, and Director of the Central New York Humanities Corridor, a project of the Mellon Foundation with Cornell University and University of Rochester

Prof. UGO MATTEI – Professor of Private Law, Università di Torino

Prof. MAURIZIO MORI – Professor of Bioethics, Università di Torino

Prof. MARIO PIRISI – Professor of Translational Medicine, Università del Piemonte Orientale

Prof. DAVIDE TARIZZO – Assistant Professor, Moral Philosophy, Università di Salerno


June 3: Turin

16:30 Registration starts (Aula Magna Rettorato, Via Verdi, 8) [Registrations will continue through the conference]

17:30 – Welcome Salute to Delegates: SLSA-EU Chair

17:30 – 18.30 READING

David Wagner reads from his new novel Leben (Life)

Reception to follow


June 4: Vercelli

8:30 Bus Departure Points: Piazza Carlo Felice, Piazza Vittorio, Piazza Castello (Turin)

10:00 – 10:30 Opening Address (@Aula magna, Cripta S.Andrea)

Prof. Cesare Emanuel, Provost, Università del Piemonte Orientale (UPO); Prof.ssa Raffaella Tabacco, Chair, Department of Humanities (UPO)

Welcome: Prof. Yves Abrioux, President SLSAeu; Prof. Cristina Iuli, Vice President SLSAeu and Conference Organization Chair

10:45 – 13:00 Opening Lectures (@Aula magna, Cripta S.Andrea)

Chair: Prof. Umberto Dianzani, Immunology, UPO

Prof. Paolo Vineis, Chair, Environmental Epidemiology, Imperial College, London

"The New Challenges Posed by Epigenetics"

Prof. Giuseppe Testa, Head, Laboratory of Stem Cell Epigenetics/Unit on Science and Technology Studies, IEO

"Life Scales: the Mutual Constitution of Living and Political Forms"


13:00 – 14:30 Lunch break


14:30 – 15:45 Parallel sessions (@Ex-Ospedaletto)

15:45 – 16:00 Coffee break

16:00 – 17:15 Parallel sessions (@Ex-Ospedaletto)

17:30 – 19:00 ROUND TABLE I (@Aula magna, Cripta S.Andrea)

"Autoimmune diseases, biotechnology and the right to treatment"

Moderates: Prof. Luca Savarino, UPO

Prof. Maurizio Mori, Bioethics, Torino: “Ethics and the Right to Treatment”

Prof. Umberto Dianzani, Immunology, UPO: "Immunity and Autoimmunity: when Defense Strikes the Organism"

Prof. Mario Pirisi, Translational Medicine, UPO: "The Cost Burden of Autoimmune Diseases"

Prof. Sandra D'Alfonso, Genetics and Genomics, UPO: "The Genetics of Autoimmune Diseases: Social Implications"

Prof. Ugo Mattei, Private Law, Torino: “Healthcare as a Fundamental Right and a Common”

19:15 – 21:30 Extended Cocktail (@ Salone Dugentesco) and


Sophie Lebech with Adam Bencard and Mats Friedlun

"The Biopolitics of Terrorism"

21:45 Bus shuttle to Turin


June 5 – Turin

9.00 – 10:30 Parallel sessions (@Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

10:30 – 11:00: Coffee break

11:00 – 12:00 PLENARY LECTURE I (@Aula magna, Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

Chair: Prof. Aldo Fasolo, Emeritus, Accademia delle Scienze, Torino

Prof. Roberto Esposito, SUM

"Biological Life and Political Life"

12:00 – 13:00 PLENARY LECTURE II (@Aula magna, Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

Chair: Prof. Cristina Iuli, UPO

Prof. Cary Wolfe, Rice University

"(Auto)Immunity, Social Theory, and Control"

13: 00 – 14:30 Lunch break

14:30 – 16:00 ROUND TABLE II (@Aula magna, Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

"Life beyond the Biopolitical Paradigm, a Roundtable with Roberto Esposito and Cary Wolfe"

Prof. Timothy Campbell, Cornell University: “Comedic Forms of Life: Impolitical Perspectives on the Biopolitical Paradigm”

Prof. Gregg Lambert, Syracuse University: “The Question of Life after ‘the Regime of Truth’”

Prof. Davide Tarizzo, Università di Salerno: “From Abstract Life to Artificial Life”

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 – 18:00 Parallel sessions (@Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

18:00 – 19: 30 Aperitivo (@Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)


June 6 – Turin

9.00 – 10:30 Parallel sessions (@Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 – 12:30 PLENARY LECTURE III (@Aula magna, Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

Chair: Prof. Marco Pustianaz, UPO

Prof. Claire Colebrook, Penn State University

"Exceptional Disaster"

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch break

13:00 – 14: 00 SLSA-EU Board Meeting (Room F3 Einaudi)

14:00 – 15:30 Parallel sessions (@Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break


(@Aula magna, Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

"Life, Sex, and Death: Scales of Living and Evolutionary Regimes in a Biopolitical Perspective"

Moderates: Felice Cimatti, Università della Calabria

Dorion Sagan, author of Notes from the Holocene and Cosmic Apprentice

Claudia Bordese, science writer, author of Wild Sex. When nature Loves and A Life at Others' Expense. Eulogy of Parasitism

17:30 – 18:15 Closing remarks and Presentation of SLSAeu Malta 2015 (@Aula Magna, Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)

18:15 – 19:30 Cocktail and Goodbye (@Campus Luigi Einaudi, UNITO)


Full Program [PDF-2.3MB]


The documentation ( video recordings on-demand ) on the day of the Turin conference is available on the website of the University of Turin in the page dedicated to the events media, at the following links: