Topics in Literature and Contemporary Theory

The working group in literature and theory is meant to foster the interdisciplinary study of literary texts with reference to developing configurations in contemporary theory. The group focuses on German texts but maintains a strong comparative component, enlisting texts from numerous literary and philosophical traditions. In biweekly meetings, faculty and student participants discuss emergent paradigms in literature, critical theory, and social forms. At the beginning of the Fall semester, the working group will choose a topic or theme for the coming academic year.

The program for the coming year will include a reading list, schedule, and research agenda. This forum is open to all interested participants throughout the Yale community; knowledge of German (or other foreign languages) is not necessary: all texts are made available in English and discussion is in English. The reading list and program will be made available on Classes*v2; we will also use the Classes*v2 list to distribute information regarding related external events, conferences, and guest speakers at Yale.|

2016-2017 Topic: The Body

When we speak about the body, what are we speaking about? Is speaking about “the body” a way to approach an understanding of the act of perception or the experience of being embodied? Or does talking about “the body” only serve to reify the model of mind-body dualism put forward by Descartes? Beginning with an examination of the Cartesian notion of the body as a complex machine, our project will examine the problem of the body from various theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, with careful attention to the body as it appears in literature. As a text that demands to be read and interpreted, the body offers literature an opportunity to reflect on the aesthetic and political relation between life and literature and the tenuous boundary between self and world.