Course Descriptions

470:388 Topics: Philosophy and the Event of Literature

Professor Dominik Zechner

Taught in English. No prerequisites.

Relationship status: it’s complicated! The relation between philosophical and literary discourses has been an inherently fraught one. While philosophy has undoubtedly been intrigued and inspired by literature and drawn to the poetic and literary word – it has also systematically tried to dominate, master, and domesticate literature. At times, it even set out to expel and annul the presence of poets. Yet, these attempts at domination are never quite successful. There is something about literature that necessarily eludes the philosophical grasp and withdraws from logical systematization. As a matter of fact, literature has been observed actively to undermine and shake up the philosophical edifice. Werner Hamacher aptly terms this “the quaking of presentation.” We will approach literature’s elusive, interruptive quality under the heading of the “event” – and our seminar will trace its unruly occurrence throughout the 20th century as we read philosophers reading – and as we watch the poets take philosophy. Get ready to read Adorno on Beckett, Deleuze on Melville, Derrida on Kafka, Heidegger on Hölderlin, and more!