Winter 2017

Literature & Philosophy Workshop Winter 2017 Schedule

January 5th: “In Praise of Depth: or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Hidden.” (Foster 505)
Joshua Landy
(Andrew B. Hammond Professor in French Language, Literature and Civilization and Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University)

“All of a sudden, people are telling literary scholars to ditch the metaphor of depth.  Brilliant people, too, like Alexander Nehamas, Toril Moi, and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht.  Why?  What’s wrong with calling a reading “superficial,” and thinking it’s the worse for that?

In this paper I attempt to figure out (a) what the bathwater is and (b) what babies are being thrown out along with it.  I offer a hypothesis for why some people think we need to stop talking about depth (hint: it may in some cases have to do with a relentless focus on “messages”).  I talk a bit about Pride and Prejudice and Shamela and Mallarmé and Holbein, and suggest that deep readings don’t need to be either message-based or suspiciously hermeneutic.  I try to explain what I think we mean when we talk about depth in the context of art (hint: it may have to do with differences in kind and shifts in strategy), and I generally attempt to talk everyone down from the ledge.”

January 19th: Close Reading of Toril Moi, “‘Nothing is Hidden’: From Confusion to Clarity, or Wittgenstein on Critique”
In keeping with this quarter’s spontaneous theme of layers and depth versus surface, we will read Toril Moi’s paper on the idea of the “hidden” in works of art. Those in attendance at Joshua Landy’s and Thomas Pavel’s presentations may find this session particularly useful. Although Moi will not be at this reading, she is presenting in the Neubauer conference “Concepts of Aesthetic Form” on the morning of Saturday, January 14th.

February 2nd: “More than Meets the Eye: Layers of Artistic Representation” (Foster 505)
Thomas Pavel (Gordon J. Laing Distinguished Service Professor in Romance Languages and Literature, Comparative Literature, the Committee on Social Thought, Fundamentals, and Creative Writing, University of Chicago)

The topic of this paper is the multilayered nature of artistic representation. It argues that public’s ability to identify the objects and actions presented in a work of art relies on sensitivity to immediately perceptible details as well as to the ability to recognize types, values, and ideals.

February 16th: “‘Your Tale Would Cure Deafness’: Revenge Fantasies and The Tempest
Ben Jeffery (PhD student, Social Thought)

“The idea that The Tempest is a revenge plot that overcomes or escapes revenge is a familiar one. But what does this overcoming or escaping involve? In this paper I set out some provisional ideas about how The Tempest relates to the spirit of revenge drama, with a focus on the effects of grievance on Prospero’s psychology and the manner in which his fantasies of retribution inform the texture of the story around him.”

March 2nd: “What Dreams Do to Film”

Francey Russell (PhD candidate, Philosophy)

This paper-in-progress concerns the question of how we should understand representations of characters’ dreams in film and television. I’ll be concerned with questions of both content and form. Regarding the first: what do dreams reveal about characters and why must it be revealed in precisely this way? Regarding the second: what do dream sequences do to the formal whole (the film or the TV show)? I’ll be looking at The Sopranos and possibly Rosemary’s Baby.

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