History of Art & Arch: film Screening of "Reasonable Doubt" followed by Lecture BY Mieke Bal


Thursday, November 17, 2016, 5:30pm to 8:30pm


Sackler Building, Lecture Hall 029, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA


The Graduate Student Lecture Series of the Department of History of Art and Architecture presents

Mieke Bal

Cultural Theorist, Critic, Video Artist

Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam


"Reasonable Doubt" & "Thinking in Film"




Thursday, November 17

5:30-7:15pm Screening of "Reasonable Doubt"

7:30-8:30pm Lecture "Thinking in Film"

Sackler Building (485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138), Lecture Hall 029



About the film:


Reasonable Doubt

Scenes from the lives and works of René Descartes and Kristina, Queen of Sweden

Theoretical fiction, docu-drama, 98 min.


After a relationship by correspondence, philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) met and briefly interacted with Queen Kristina (1626-1689) in Stockholm, where he died six week after arriving, due to the cold. Once Descartes had reached Sweden, the two didn’t see each other much. Kristina’s philosophical interest was genuine enough. But he was there in a more or less decorative function, to adorn Kristina’s ambitious project of creating an Academy that would put Sweden’s intellectual elite on the European map.

Descartes left Western thought with a burden and a treasure. The burden: a misconstrued dualistic tradition. In Mieke Bal’s view, he accepted the dualism of the Catholic Church, but fought against it all his life because it is not reasonable. The treasure: a decisive advance in rational thought that, precisely, did not excise the body; nor religion for that matter. According to Bal, the (in)famous cogito can be interpreted in the opposite direction, an attempt to embody thought. In Reasonable Doubt, her most recent film project, Bal looks back from his last book, The Passions of the Soul, and sees the ongoing struggle against dualism in different episodes of his life.


Watch the trailer here


Sponsored by the Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University