Issues In Literary Theory

FRIT-F564 — Fall 2023

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Oana Panaïté
Course Description


The discussions will focus on how theoretical production and reception come to be shaped by the identity of its author, centering around the works of two contemporary thinkers: Jacques Derrida and Édouard Glissant. We will focus on how the ideological and institutional gesture of freezing thinkers in their racial or ethnic identity can restrict the perception and reception of their works. Their works will be placed in dialogue with concepts and models offered by some of their precursors (Plato, Aristotle, Montaigne, Hegel) and contemporaries (bell hooks, Said, Bhabha, Spivak, Irigaray, Deleuze, Lyotard, Rancière, Butler, Badiou, Latour, Appiah, Malabou or Mbembe) concerned with the lived experience of theory, with different relational models involving the universal and the particular, the singular and the specific, and with the bodily manifestations or the necessary disembodiment of the thinking subject. What is the role of biographical (self-)presentation and historical contextualization (such as describing the thinker as French, Algerian, Jewish, Martinican, or Black) in defining the conditions and terms in which a work is produced as well as received (Western or Caribbean; universal or regional; deconstructionist, poststructuralist or postcolonial)? What rhetorical strategies participate in the construction, deployment and/or concealment of theoretical authorship? How can a polemical exchange (such as Derrida’s "Monolingualism of the Other" read as an answer to Glissant and Khatibi) shape the content of an argument and its legacy? How does a theoretical text define its addressee (precursor, peer, opponent etc.), and to what ends? Are there objects of knowledge that can/must/should only be theorized by specific subjects – and therefore, inaccessible to others – to avoid the risk of cultural appropriation and ideological misinterpretation?

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