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3:00pm Life After Theory – A Critique of Posthumanism and Surface Reading

February 3, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

A recent panel on posthumanism and post-theory at the MLA convention in Philadelphia attempted to challenge contemporary theorizations in the field of literary and cultural studies by providing a counter-history. Since there is still unbounded enthusiasm for a post-theoretical project, and especially for the concept of ‘surface reading,’ it is necessary to read and understand its foundational texts and their genealogy in intellectual history. For while posthumanism claims to radically challenge anthropocentric and paranoid readings of literature it in fact questions critical approaches to literary and cultural texts. Yet nothing could be more important in the era of ‘post-truth’ than a revitalized ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ and a theory of praxis that trains students and scholars across the disciplines in depth-models of reading.

For this purpose, this reading group will focus on close readings of (short) post-theoretical texts and excerpts dealing with the so-called hermeneutics of suspicion, complemented by critical responses and background texts. All texts will be made available as PDFs or links.

Meeting Times

Friday, February 3 @ 3PM

Wednesday, February 15 @ 5:30PM

Wednesday, March 15 @ 5:30PM

Wednesday, March 29 @ 5:30PM

Wednesday, April 19 @ 5:30PM

Location: Room 21-2 at IPLAI (3610 McTavish)

Session 1 – Criticizing the Postcritical Project (February 3)

Felski, Rita. “Introduction.” The Limits of Critique: 1-13.

Brennan, Timothy. “Borrowed Light.” Borrowed Light: Vico, Hegel, and the Colonies: 197-234.

Recommended reading (optional):

Felski, Rita. “Introduction.” Uses of Literature: 1-22.

Parry, “What’s Wrong With Literary Studies?” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Mullins, “Are We Postcritical” (LA Review of Books)

Committed Group Organizers

Felix Fuchs, PhD student (English): felix.fuchs@mail.mcgill.ca and Sara Farah, MA student (English) sara.farah@mail.mcgill.ca



February 3, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


3610 McTavish, 2nd floor
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1Y2 Canada
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