**Updated to Include: ENG 890S-01


Key questions in literary theory reconsidered from the point of view of ordinary language philosophy (Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Cavell). Topics will vary, but may include: meaning, language, interpretation, intentions, fiction, realism and representation, voice, writing, the subject, the body, the other, difference and identity, the politics of theory. New perspectives on canonical texts on these subjects. Taught by Toril Moi.


ENG 890-01: Novel Theory

This course looks closely at major theoretical attempts to explain how novels imagine a world that can be inhabited (or not) in specific ways by historically and culturally variable readerships. I plan to begin with Lukács and Bahktin and then see what happens to their arguments when challenged in quick succession by structuralism, poststructuralism, and so-called identity politics.  The second half of the course considers the situation now: what comes after this long period of exhaustive critique.  Is there a positive potential in the world-making capability we have come to find so flawed? Can the novel give up the idea of a world made all of property and still make a world—how? Who or what would live there, and in what relation to ourselves? Taught by Nancy Armstrong.

XIANThe 980S-01 “Incomprehensible Certainty”: Iconic Vision and Theological Aesthetics
Duke Divinity School. Taught by Thomas Pfau (M 6:00-8:30 pm).


This seminar will explore links between spiritual knowledge and vision in two cultural contexts separated by more than a millenium. In Part I we will take up conceptions of vision in Plotinus, Pseudo Dionysius, St. John Damascene, and St. Theodore the Studite. It is in the context of the iconoclast debates of the 8th and 9th centuries that the conception of the image, of vision, and of their spiritual efficacy and legitimacy is first being addressed in rigorous form. Among other things, the contest over the status of images within liturgical practice and theological argument also turns out to be a struggle over the ambivalent legacy of Platonism, particularly when it comes to images. Drawing on secondary literature by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hans Urs von Balthasar, David Bentley Hart, David Freedberg, Alain Besançon, Jean-Luc Marion, Marie-Jose Mondzain, Robin Jensen, Hans Belting, and Christoph Schönborn, the seminar will consider the promise and the risks of a theological aesthetic in the context of the Byzantine Iconoclast controversies that extend from 725-843 A.D.

Part II of the seminar will focus on Gerard Manley Hopkins’ incarnational and sacramental conception of the word as transmogrified vision, both in his poetry and in various other writings (journals, letters, essays, etc.). Above all, we will try and follow Hopkins’ daring attempt at an utterly particularized conception of vision whose incarnational logic – derived, in part, on Duns Scotus’ epistemology and Ignatian spirituality – fundamentally resists the Aristotelian-Thomist view of the word as abstractive and universal. Secondary literature on Hopkins (von Balthasar, B. Ward, Walter Ong, Phillip Ballinger, et al.) as well as some selections from Duns Scotus and St. Ignatius will guide our efforts here.