'We Terrestials': Theorizing Life after Lockdown

Join us to reflect on the relationship between life, modernity and the political, particularly but not exclusively in the wake of the Covid pandemic, in the company of Professor Frederica Pedriali.

The afternoon is divided into two parts: a masterclass in which Frederica Pedriali (Professor of Literary Metatheory and Modern Italian Studies at the University of Edinburgh) will lead us in a discussion of recent work by Bruno Latour and Davide Tarizzo, followed by a talk on the same texts.

Latour’s work theorises life during and after lockdown via a reading of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and calls for the emergence of an ecological class consciousness, while Tarizzo’s work explores the ways in which life itself, as a simultaneously biological (Darwinian) and metaphysical (Kantian) category, is a modern invention.

Refreshments will be provided between the two parts of the afternoon.

The event is organised by the School of English Critical Life Research Group in partnership with the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies.

Staff and students interested in continental philosophy, biopolitics, environmental and medical humanities and/or cultural studies are particularly welcome.

Masterclass: Reading and Contesting Bruno Latour

2.30 to 4pm
Meeting Room (G.01), School of English

We will discuss two short essays by Latour, After Lockdown: A Metamorphosis (2021) and On the Emergence of an Ecological Class (2022) as well as Chapter Three of Davide Tarizzo’s Life: A Modern Invention (2017), entitled ‘On the Use and Abuse of Life for History’.

Please email Sam Durrant at s.r.durrant@leeds.ac.uk for copies of the readings.

Talk: We the Moderns Live: Contesting Bruno Latour with Davide Tarizzo

4.30 to 6pm
Seminar Room 5 (first floor), School of English

Abstract for Professor Frederica Pedriali’s talk

I generally find issue with the phrase and claim “we have never been modern”, not least because it ends up reinserting the great divide (moderns vs non-moderns) it claims to remove. And I find the later Latour all the more intriguing because of the further reinstallation of separations. Davide Tarizzo’s Life: A Modern Invention (2017), especially the closing chapter,  provides ammunition to contest this later Latour. So I would be looking in particular at After Lockdown (2021) and On the Emergence of an Ecological Class: A Memo (2022), which came out just before Latour passed away. And then combine a little Roberto Esposito and a lot of Tarizzo for my conclusion.


Federica G. Pedriali is Professor of Literary Metatheory and Modern Italian Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Research Affiliate at the Edinburgh Futures Institute. Her work intersects Biopolitics, Cognitive Narratology, Continental Philosophy, Decolonial Studies, Migration and Diaspora Studies, the Environmental Humanities, Performance Studies, and Political Theory.

She is currently working on biopower, dissonant heritages, and the future of change, having worked, among other things, on the spatialities of war, totalitarian Europe, and the digital humanities. She is the author or editor of 24 volumes. Her recent books include: (ed), Roberto Esposito’s Italian Thought (in press); (co-ed), Mobilizing Cultural Identities in the First World War (2020); (ed), Gadda. Interpreti a confronto (2020); Altre carceri d’invenzione. Studi gaddiani (2007). She will edit the Roberto Esposito Dictionary for Edinburgh University Press and is working on Italy by Design. Materiality and Commodification from Leonardo the MAXXI (under consideration by Toronto University Press).

She was appointed to the UKRI Talent Panel College and chairs Europe and the World as part of alliance of European Universities, Una.Europa, Brussels. She will receive a Knighthood for her distinguished career and for strengthening relations between Italy and the UK on 4 June at the Italian Embassy, London.

Book your place

Please email Sam Durrant at s.r.durrant@leeds.ac.uk to register your interest in attending either or both parts of the afternoon


Frederica Pedriali, Professor of Literary Metatheory and Modern Italian Studies at the University of Edinburgh.