The Individual and the West: A Discussion

12:25 PM

The Individual and the West: 
A Discussion


John Lobell 


Suzanne Verderber 
(Humanities and Media Studies)

Tuesday, September 17, 12:30 to 2:00
Alumni Reading Room, Library, 
Pratt Brooklyn Campus

In the West we have seen the emergence of “the individual” in a form seen nowhere else. Why did this occur, and what is this individual?
Join us for two presentations that approach this question in contrasting ways, and then please participate in a discussion. Lobell will argue in favor of the Western individualism as a form of subjectivity that promotes moral action, whereas Verderber will propose that individualism itself is a subjective formation sustained by specific arrangements of power. 

Moral Agency

Cultures are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. In the West, these story can be seen in the Arthurian Romances, in Huck Finn, and in just about every action movie, all placing moral agency in the heart of each individual.
About Lobell:
  • M. Arch., University of Pennsylvania, Thesis on Architecture and Structures of Consciousness
• M. Arch., University of Pennsylvania, professional degree
  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania
Current projects: Timeship, extreme life extension (; myths and movies (; Visionary Creativity ( More at

The Medieval Fold: Power, Repression, and the Emergence of the Individual

Medievalists who study the West have grappled with a curious phenomenon, what has been spoken of as the apparent emergence of the individual during the twelfth century. In this presentation, I argue that the inquiry into the emergence of the individual during the twelfth-century has been hindered by reliance upon a model of the subject that is too rigid, based upon the establishment of a boundary between the interior self and the external world, and propose a new theoretical model, that of the folded subject, which allows for a nuanced understanding of how interactions between institutions, power, and the unconscious resulted in the production of the internalized, individuated subject. 

About Verderber:
  • B.A., Dartmouth College; Female Agency in the Social Fictions of  Marguerite de Navarre
  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Subjective Vision and Fragmentation in Late Medieval France, Burgundy, and Flanders
Current project: Perspective and the Emergence of the Humanist Subject

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