Tintern Philosophy Circle

Meetings are currently being held via Zoom

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Professor Simon Cottle
The next meeting will be held via Zoom on Tuesday 20th April at 7.30pm.
Topic: Massacre of the Innocents - On Historically Shifting Registers of Humanitarianism and Why it Matters Today
Speaker: Professor Simon Cottle


Images, as well as words, are sometimes good to think with. This illustrated presentation reflects on the changing historical registers and shifting sentiments evident within depictions of atrocity over many centuries. It asks what these may tell us about the deep historical currents running through human society up to and including the globalised present. The talk is not preoccupied, therefore, with the immediate power plays and political appropriations and uses that representations of collective violence and atrocity are sometimes put to in historical struggles for legitimation, opposition and change. Rather, it explores some of the the longer-term developmental processes in human society, including responses to human suffering and the development of humanitarian, human rights and human (in)security discourses and sensibilities. As a way of securing some empirical traction on this philosophically contested terrain, the presentation deliberately focuses on one particular atrocity, a scene represented many times in Western art across the centuries: ‘Massacre of the Innocents.’ By examining 101 depictions from the 10th to 21st centuries, the presentation recovers wider trends in how depictions of atrocity have changed over time and considers what this may tell us about, inter alia, the historical ‘expansion of the human circle’ (Singer 2011), the evolution of the ‘empathic civilization’ (Rifkin 2012) and moral deepening of the ‘civil sphere’ (Alexander 2006). In such ways it is hoped that we may also sharpen our understanding of how collective violence and atrocity are both represented and register more widely in today’s globalized and increasingly mediated world.


Simon Cottle is Professor of Media and Communications at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC) at Cardiff University where he was formerly Deputy and then Head of School (2008 -2015). Previously he was Inaugural Chair and Director of the Media and Communications Program at the University of Melbourne. Simon is the author of 13 books on media, globalization and the communication of conflicts, crises and catastrophes. Most recently these include Mediatized Conflicts (2006), Global Crisis Reporting (2009), Transnational Protests and the Media (Ed. with L. Lester)(2011), Disasters and the Media (with M. Pantti and K. Wahl-Jorgensen) (2012), Humanitarianism, Communications and Change (Ed. with G. Cooper)(2015) and Reporting Dangerously: Journalist Killings, Intimidation and Security (with R. Sambrook and N. Mosdell)(2016). He series edits the Global Crises and Media Series for Peter Lang publishing. Currently he is thinking about the history of violence and communications and the possible leverage that global communications can help secure in contexts of human insecurity and imminent atrocity. He is also re-thinking ideas of ‘global crisis’ when situated and theorized in today’s ‘world-in-crisis’ or ‘planetary emergency’.

The Zoom link for this meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88600959629?pwd=YWJQelJmZzJ2REZMdE1aeTdEOXZ4QT09


To join this Zoom meeting please click on the link above or copy and send from your browser a few minutes prior to 7.30. Invitation to join the meeting will follow. Click on 'Open' and on 'Join with video' - the latter will open up your own image and those of other participants. Please mute you microphone, and switch back on if you wish to join in during the discussion. The meeting will end at about 9.00.