Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies

By | March 18, 2011

Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies Though it is due to be published in September, I’m so excited about Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies that I thought I’d give you a heads-up now.  Cavell is well known for his philosophical engagement with literature, but most critics and scholars of literature have neglected him in favor of certain French thinkers from the latter half of the twentieth century.  While Deleuze, Derrida, and their fellow travelers have made invaluable contributions to our understanding of literature, many contemporary theorists deploy their ideas predictably, as if by rote.

It is high time to revitalize philosophical discourse on literature with a new theoretical framework.  Indeed, Cavell’s work should appeal to those (like myself) whose interests are chiefly in German and French philosophy.  In his writing on the emergence of meaning from literature and film, he works to address both the “micro” concerns of Analytic aesthetics (“How exactly does art work?”) and the “macro” question of Continental aesthetics (“What does art do?”).  It is worth adding that Professor Cavell taught Heidegger to a young Terrence Malick, who is now a filmmaker of some reputation.  And it just so happens that we are also publishing a book on him!  Check it out on the Media Studies blog.

Here is the table of contents:

1. Introduction:
Cavell, Literary Studies, and the Human Subject: Consequences of Skepticism
    Richard Eldridge and Bernard Rhie

I. Principles
2. The Adventure of Reading: Literature and Philosophy, Cavell and Beauvoir
    Toril Moi
3. “Is ‘Us’ Me?”  Cultural Studies and the Universality of Aesthetic Judgments
    R. M. Berry
4. Cavell and Kant: The Work of Criticism and the Work of Art
    Anthony J. Cascardi
5. Cavell and Wittgenstein on Morality: The Limits of Acknowledgment
    Charles Altieri
6. The Word Viewed: Skepticism Degree Zero
    Garrett Stewart
7. A Storied World: On Meeting and Being Met
    Naomi Scheman
8. Skepticism and the Idea of an Other: Reflections on Cavell and Postcolonialism
    Simona Bertacco and John Gibson

II. Practices
9. William Shakespeare and Stanley Cavell: Acknowledging, Confessing, and Tragedy
    Sarah Beckwith
10. Competing for the Soul: Cavell on Shakespeare
    Lawrence F. Rhu
11. “Communicating with Objects”: Romanticism, Skepticism, and “The Specter of Animism” in Cavell and Wordsworth
    Joshua Wilner
12. Emerson Discomposed:  Skepticism, Naturalism, and the Search for Criteria in “Experience”
    Paul Grimstad
13. Beside Ourselves: Near, Neighboring and Next-to in Cavell’s The Senses of Walden and William Carlos Williams’s “Fine Work with Pitch and Copper”
    Elisa New
14. For all You Know
    Andrew H. Miller
15. Empiricism, Exhaustion, and Meaning What We Say: Cavell and Contemporary Fiction
    Robert Chodat

-Pavel Godfrey, Editorial Intern at Continuum New York

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