Reading in the Age of Trump: The Politics and Possibility of Literary Criticism Now

May 16-18, 2019, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.

Conference organizers: Tim Lanzendörfer and Mathias Nilges (St. Francis Xavier University)

Literary criticism in the twenty-first century has been characterized by a renewed interest in the discipline’s big questions, its foundational categories, and its basic methodological assumptions. How do we read? What counts as interpretation? What is literature? What can literature do? What are its politics?

We believe that it is time to step back and critically examine and historicize the various conceptual and methodological movements that together make up the innovations in twenty-first century literary criticism. With a bit of cheek, we want to understand such things as the questioning of symptomatic reading as itself symptomatic of the contemporary.

Some of our questions then are: How may we historicize the discussions surrounding the category of reading? What are the politics of the various positions—of their underlying propositions and of their aims? What, in turn, are their political possibilities—indeed, what is the valence of the “political” in criticism? And in what ways may the attempt to historicize and to examine the politics of the different facets of twenty-first literary criticism allow us to develop accounts of the possibility and the possibilities of literary criticism today? We propose to try and work through these questions during an intensive conference that brings together key scholars in the field in the effort to historicize the past two decades in literary criticism in order to examine its present politics and future possibility.
Join us as we literary critics ask ourselves: how do we do what we do and why?

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There is no registration fee. If you want to participate in the conference, please register with Tim Lanzendörfer,