New Directions in Philosophy and Literature

Edited by David Rudrum, Ridvan Askin, Frida Beckman

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Maps out how new developments in 21st-century philosophy intersect with the study of literature

  • Includes an orientational introduction by Claire Colebrook, one of the world's foremost authorities in the field
  • Engages dynamic debates about what it means to be human in face of recent developments in science and technology, the repercussions of anthropogenic climate change, and the overall nature of our contemporary moment
  • Draws on new developments in philosophy including speculative realism, object-oriented ontology, the new materialisms, posthumanism, analytic philosophy of language and metaphysics, and ecophilosophy
  • Offers close readings of a range of texts from 19th- and 20th-century classics such as Walden, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Nineteen Eighty-Four to contemporary novels such as A Visit from the Goon Squad, Oryx and Crake and The Stone Gods

This forward-thinking, non-traditional reference work uniquely maps out how new developments in 21st century philosophy are entering into dialogue with the study of literature. Going beyond the familiar methods of analytic philosophy, and with a breadth greater than traditional literary theory, this collection looks at the profound consequences of the interaction between philosophy and literature for questions of ethics, politics, subjectivity, materiality, reality and the nature of the contemporary itself.

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Editors’ Preface

General Introduction: Opposition of the Faculties, Philosophy’s Literary Impossibility
Claire Colebrook

Part I: Beyond the Postmodern: Literature, Philosophy, and the Question of the Contemporary

Editor’s Introduction
David Rudrum

1. The Polymodern Condition: A Report on Cluelessness
David Rudrum

2. Metamodernism: Period, Structure of Feeling, and Cultural Logic – A Case Study into Contemporary Autofiction
Robin van den Akker, Alison Gibbons and Timotheus Vermeulen

3. The Ends of Metafiction, or, The Romantic Time of Egan’s Goon Squad
Josh Toth

4. Virtually Human: Posthumanism and (Post-)postmodern Cyberspace in Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story
Nicky Gardiner

Part II: Beyond the Subject: Posthuman and Nonhuman Literary Criticism

Editor’s Introduction
Ridvan Askin

5. Hélène Cixous’s So Close; or, Moving Matters on the Subject
Birgit Mara Kaiser

6. Meillassoux, the Critique of Correlationism, and British Romanticism
Evan Gottlieb

7. Fictional Objects Fictional Subjects
Graham Priest

8. On the Death of Meaning
R. Scott Bakker

Part III: Beyond the Object: Reading Literature through Actor-Network Theory, Object-Oriented Philosophy, and the New Materialisms

Editor’s Introduction
Ridvan Askin

9. Neither Billiard Ball nor Planet B: Latour’s Gaia, Literary Agency, and the Challenge of Writing Geohistory in the Anthropocene Moment
Babette B. Tischleder

10. Three Problems of Formalism: An Object-Oriented View
Graham Harman

11. A Field of Heteronyms and Homonyms: New Materialism, Speculative Fabulation, and Wor(l)ding
Helen Palmer

12. Emerson’s Speculative Pragmatism
Ridvan Askin

Part IV: Ordinary Language Criticism: Reading Literature through Anglo-American Philosophy

Editor’s Introduction
David Rudrum

13. Two Examples of Ordinary Language Criticism: Reading Conant Reading Rorty Reading Orwell – Interpretation at the Intersection of Philosophy and Literature
Ingeborg Löfgren

14. Stanley Cavell and the Politics of Modernism
R.M. Berry

15. Inferentialist Semantics, Intimationist Aesthetics, and Walden
Bryan Vescio

Part V: Embodiment as Ethics: Literature and Life in the Anthropocene

Editor’s Introduction
Frida Beckman

16. Living to Tell the Story: Characterisation, Narrative Perspective, and Ethics in Climate Crisis Flood Novels
Astrid Bracke

17. Contemporary Anthropocene Novels: Ian McEwan’s Solar, Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood
Robert P. Marzec

18. The Day of the Dark Precursor: Philosophy, Fiction, and Fabulation at the End of the World – A Ficto-Critical Guide
Charlie Blake

19. So to Speak
Adrian Parr

Part VI: Politics after Discipline: Literature, Life, Control

Editor’s Introduction
Frida Beckman

20. Literature’s Biopolitics
Rey Chow

21. We Have Been Paranoid Too Long to Stop Now
Frida Beckman and Charlie Blake

22. Securing Neoliberalism: The Contingencies of Contemporary US Fiction
David Watson

23. Automatic Art, Automated Trading: Finance, Fiction, and Philosophy
Arne De Boever

Notes on Contributors

The relationship between philosophy and literature has always been tempestuous – ranging from ‘ancient quarrel’ to love-in – and much has happened recently. The outstanding international contributors to this ground-breaking volume provide a superb and original introduction to ‘where we are now’ for philosophers, literary theorists, critics and scholars of contemporary fiction.

Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway, University of London

This collection definitively demonstrates, from a wide range of philosophical traditions and international perspectives, that the so-called 'death of theory' has been greatly exaggerated. New Directions in Philosophy and Literature offers us just that – bold new ways to think about the ancient quarrel between the poets and the philosophers. Highly recommended.

Jeffrey T. Nealon, Penn State University
David Rudrum is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of Huddersfield. He is the author of Stanley Cavell and the Claim of Literature (Johns Hopkins, 2013). He is co-editor of Supplanting the Postmodern (Bloomsbury, 2015), Literature and Philosophy: A Guide to Contemporary Debates (Palgrave, 2006).

Ridvan Askin is Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellow in American and General Literatures at the University of Basel. His recent publications include two co-edited volumes, Aesthetics in the 21st Century, a special issue of Speculations (2014), and Literature, Ethics, Morality: American Studies Perspectives (Narr, 2015).

Frida Beckman is Professor of Comparative Literature at Stockholm University, Sweden. Her books include Control Culture: Foucault and Deleuze after Discipline (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and Culture Control Critique: Allegories of Reading the Present (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016). She has also published extensively on Deleuze, where her books include Gilles Deleuze: A Critical Life (Reaktion Books, 2017), Between Desire and Pleasure: A Deleuzian Theory of Sexuality (Edinburgh University Press, 2013) and the edited collection Deleuze and Sex (Edinburgh University Press, 2011).

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