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MC: Sophie Ratcliffe: The Trouble With Feeling Now: Recovering the History of Feeling Present (GCSC)

When Dec 19, 2018
from 10:00 to 02:00
Where Phil I, Building B, R.029
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 053
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The Trouble With Feeling Now: Recovering the history of feeling present


This discussion aims to explore questions of critical feeling in the present. It will look particularly at the idea of aesthetic encounters which depend on active and live relationships in order to gain their effects, taking as case studies the idea of the lecture, and the idea of the exhibition. Using examples from Dickens, Ruskin and Kate Field, and critical works by Csordas, Citton, Freedgold and Miller, we shall aim to practice both what Rita Felski calls ‘critical historicism’ and to probe the limits of historicism per se. In thinking about what Felski describes as the ‘transtemporal impact’ and ‘affective resonance[s]’ of works of art we will explore the role of the literary critic today. We will consider, in particular, the extent to which the recovery of historical context has become the critical norm in certain parts of the discipline, and whether this focus on the historical reconstruction may actively prevent us from alternative, valuable knowledge. The case studies are deliberately taken from modes of aesthetic encounter that might be considered more minor or amateur, and which have received less economic and critical attention. We shall aim to consider the place and use of a ‘presentist’ criticism in the academic economy, and whether such critical work can survive in an academic economy which privileges the (more easily accountable) idea of professionalized historical research.


There are a number of suggested readings.  It is not expected that attendees read every text--the instructor hopes to see where interests reside and will tailor the discussion accordingly.


// Prof. Sophie Ratcliffe (University of Oxford, England)


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