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Near Stars: Analytic Scale and the Literary Object. Eric Hayot: Thursdays at Four, Dec. 4, 2014

Near Stars: Analytic Scale and the Literary Object

December 4, 2014 at 4:00pm
Crosby Seminar Room, Northrop

Eric Hayot, Comparative Literature and Asian Studies, Penn State University.


Download: audio, small video, or original.

Q&A

Download: audio, small video or original.

What happens if we describe the current situation of literary criticism as a “crisis in largeness”? For one, recent theories of “world” literature and of quantitative textual analysis can be made to share a genealogy, one that allows us to imagine “scale” as a central feature of the ontology of literary object. This opens, in turn, the door onto a resistance to “large” scales as a feature of generic poststructuralism, which valorizes the horizontal or rhizomal against the structured and the vertical. That’s a nice story, but it doesn’t actually correspond to the way people read. So the question is whether we need to reconcile our practice to our theories of scale, or vice versa. And the next question is to ask what kinds of theories of the objects of literary analysis we have, when we subject those objects to the weight of criticism.

eric hayotHayot’s work focuses on the transnational history of literary and cultural forms, the historical relations between the West and the Asian diaspora, and a temporally and geographically expansive version of modernism. He is the author of Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel quel (Michigan, 2004), The Hypothetical Mandarin (Oxford, 2009), and On Literary Worlds (Oxford, 2012), and the co-editor of Sinographies: Writing China (Minnesota, 2007). His newest book, The Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities, is a guide on how to write literary criticism for graduate students and faculty in literary and cultural studies. He is also past President (2013-2014) of the American Comparative Literature Association.
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Hayot will also discuss “Whatever Happened to Cosmology? Poetics, Literatures, and Premodernity” at the Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World at noon on Dec. 4th. See also: “Canon/Archive: Large-Scale Dynamics in the Literary Field” by Franco Moretti, Stanford.

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