Tomáš Jirsa Ehem. Research Fellow

Tomáš Jirsa
Januar - Februar 2017


Tomáš Jirsa is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. He received his PhD and MA from Charles University in Prague where he worked at the Institute of Czech and Comparative Literature between 2012 and 2017. He was awarded with various scholarships, comprising of a research stay at the University of California, Los Angeles (2008–2009), at Université Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV) (2010–2011), and at the IKKM in Weimar (2015). He has been also working at the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at Palacký University where he coorganized the International Festival of Science Documentary films (AFO). Along with translations from French in the fields of philosophy, aesthetics, psychiatry, and film history, he also translates French films.

Fields of research

Relationships between modern literature and visual arts, affectivity, literary theory, and intermedial aesthetics.

IKKM Research Project

Waste-Site Figures: Mediality of Garbage in the Age of Dispersion

It is a well known fact that the advent of postmodernism is simultaneous with an increasing attention payed not only to what human society produces but also to what it rejects and disposes of. The interest in “refuse” is supported by the newborn discipline, combining archeology with anthropology, garbology, created around 1973, which understands rubbish as the most valuable source of information on the contemporary civilization. From its viewpoint, a garbage dump represents a fascinating place of accumulation of various events, objects and rituals that can be deciphered and classified. Only two years later, the scandalous novel Les Météores (1975) by Michel Tournier is published, wherein the garbage plays the central role as an archaeological site due to which the main hero undertakes hermeneutics of society. However, his obsession with garbage also reveals a principle G. Bataille called the “unproductive expenditure”, based on human inclination towards destruction, wasting, and enthropy. The highly condensed material traces of garbage thus seem to be permanently exposed to the risk of dispersion which, nonetheless, appears to be a fundamental condition of its mediality. Therefore, my project strives to answer the following questions: What happens when we cease to perceive garbage as a mere repository of refuse, a reservoir of memory of the past, and focus instead on its medial and performative force? Is there any other logic of the garbage besides its repetition, reproduction, and testifying to the consumer nature of humankind? How a temporality of garbage can be addressed? Which aesthetic and aisthetic elements, affects and atmospheres emerge out of the disposal site? Therefore, the focus will be put on aesthetic as well as aisthetic operations performed by works of art, especially literature, visual arts, and cinema, which substantially not only depict, represent or narrate the phenomenon of garbage but mainly conceptualize and theorize it. For the operative nature of garbage reveals to be exactly in between the condensation and dispersion; on the one hand, it accumulates, stores and conserves the material fragments of society, the objects and matters it used and into which it immersed its memory that might be recovered. On the other hand, these material traces, refering to the past events, spread out in the form of what has been rejected as a worn out trash, junk and filth. The dialectical motion of the condensing/dispersing within garbage is alternately centripetal – in terms of the piled up artifacts coming from all over the world, and centrifugal, since garbage is randomly transferred, carried away by pickers or scavengers, buried in the ground, burnt or recycled. Since the agency of the garbage dump, endowed with its own logic and organization, seems much less anthropocentric than “anthropodecentric”, one should also ask whether the position of human subject in relation to garbage is not rather, to put it with M. Serres, para-sitical.

Selected Publications


Jirsa, T. (2016): Tváří v tvář beztvarosti: afektivní a vizuální figury moderní literatury [Facing the Formless: Affective and Visual Figures in Modern Literature]. Brno: Host, 364 p.
Jirsa, T. (2012): Fyziognomie psaní: v záhybech literárního ornamentu [Physiognomy of Writing: In the Folds of Literary Ornament]. Prague. Faculty of Arts Press. 216 pp.


Portrait of Absence: The Aisthetic Mediality of Empty Chairs. Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung 7 (2), 2016, 13–28.
Reading Kafka Visually: Gothic Ornament and the Motion of Writing in Kafka’s Der Proceß. Central Europe, 13 (1-2), 2015, 36–50.
Lost in Pattern: Rococo Ornament and its Journey to Contemporary Art through Wallpaper. In: Where Is History Today? New Ways of Representing the Past. Eds. Marcel Arbeit and Ian Christie. Olomouc: Palacký University Press, 2015, 101–119.
Ascension of the Pop Icon. Creativity of Kitsch (not only) in a Music Video of Lana Del Rey. Moravian Journal of Literature and Film 6 (1), 2015, 5–27.
Facing the Faceless: Erased Face as a Figure of Aesthetic and Historical Experience. Czech and Slovak Journal of Humanities, 5 (1), 104–119.