On Death in Literary Studies

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Corin Braga


One of the most controversial and hotly debated concepts in contemporary literary theory is that of “crisis”. Philosophers and theorists speak about the “death of the author”, the “death of literature”, post – humanism and trans – humanism (which is also a kind of “death of man”), and so on. However, these “alarmist” claims seem to point rather to internal changes and evolutions of paradigms and models than to the actual ends of domains and concepts. Moreover, they are also successful devices for drawing public attention and critical acclaim, for conferring prestige to their conveyors. My point is, evoking Theodor Adorno’s “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”, that the latest global calamities of the pandemic and of the war in Ukraine demand a more moral use of the term „death”. The metaphorical and abstract grand – narrative of the “end of man” fades away when we are confronted with the tragic and concrete realities of people suffering and dying in horrible conditions. Without ignoring the failures of anthropocentrism and the valid criticisms concerning the attitude and position of the human species within the planetary ecosystem, this paper engages with the possibility of ideologically – driven ethics giving way to a “humanism” tout court (not new – , not after – , not non – humanism), predicated on the imperative of caring about actual individuals in pain. 


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Special Session - "Presidents" Session