30 November 2010


Please join us for the final "The Uses of Literature" seminar of this term. The English Department's own Maebh Long will be speaking about the futures of literary theory in a paper entitled "Whither deconstruction…? Wither deconstruction…?". The paper will be followed by open forum discussion and a trip to the Victoria, in the usual way.

“The future of literary criticism will be Derridean, or it will not be. And if it is... not, it will have been Derridean, since it was he who first envisioned critically the possibility of a future from which literature—and, a fortiori, literary criticism—might be absent”. Richard Klein, “The Future of Literary Criticism” PMLA 125.4 (2010).

In the brave new world in which we live futures and fates are very much under scrutiny. The tragedy/farce of the Browne Report has precipitated – exacerbated – the prevailing sense of being haunted by the future, of being under siege by an inevitable and inescapable fate. Futures are closed off within a dystopian use of the future perfect that attempts to repress the openness of what Derrida termed the “to come”. This paper looks at the “to come” of the humanities, and specifically literary theory, and works to find some openness and possibility within the withering gaze of a potentially bleak future.

Maebh Long has submitted her doctoral thesis on Jacques Derrida and irony, which she wrote under the supervision of Prof. Timothy Clark, and is currently awaiting her viva. Her work attempts to position Derrida within a lineage of thinkers working on the borders of literature and philosophy who exploit irony, a non-propositional element of language, as a cognitive resource. Long was Chief Editor of the postgraduate journal Kaleidoscope (2008-2010), was co-convenor of Inventions of the Text (2008-2009) and co-convenor the English department’s theory reading group (2007-2010). "A Step Askew: Ironic Parabasis in Blanchot" in Blanchot Romantique, ed. by John McKeane and Hannes Opelz (Bern: Peter Lang, 2010) has just been published, and "Radical Digressivity and At Swim-Two-Birds" is forthcoming in Textual Wanderings: The Theory and Practice of Narrative Digressions, ed. by Rhian Atkin (Oxford: Legenda, 2011).

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