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The Trouble with Literature Victoria Kahn (Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley)

The Trouble with Literature By Victoria Kahn (Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley)

Summary

This book argues that the literature of the English Reformation marks a turning point in Western thinking about literature and literariness. Victoria Kahn contrasts modern and early modern understandings of the terms, and focuses on the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Immanuel Kant, Soren Kierkegaard, and J.M. Coetzee.

The Trouble with Literature Summary

The Trouble with Literature by Victoria Kahn (Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley)

This book, based on the Clarendon Lectures in English for 2017, argues that the literature of the English Reformation marks a turning point in Western thinking about literature and literariness. But instead of arguing that the Reformation fostered English literature, as scholars have often done, Victoria Kahn claims that literature helped undo the Reformation, with implications for both poetry and belief. Ultimately, literature in the Reformation is one vehicle by which religious belief was itself transformed into a human artifact, whether we understand this as a poetic artifact or a mental fiction. This transformation in turn helped produce the eighteenth-century discipline of aesthetics, with its emphasis on our experience of non-cognitive pleasure in the work of art, and the modern formalist definition of literature, according to which-in the words of one critic-'literature solves no problems and saves no souls.' This modern definition of literature, in short, has a history, this history is intertwined with the problem of belief, and by returning to the fraught years of the late sixteenth and seventeenth century in England, we can come to a new understanding of how the trouble with literature has shaped our discipline. The first lecture contrasts modern and early modern understandings of literature and literariness. The second and third lectures focus on Thomas Hobbes and John Milton. The fourth lecture treats the work of Immanuel Kant, Soren Kierkegaard, and J.M. Coetzee.

The Trouble with Literature Reviews

Kahn's thesis is presented in a remarkably concise book which offers productive avenues for future thought. Kahn invites us to consider literature as a motive force behind the changing nature, across modernity, of belief itself. * Tomas Weber, Los Angeles Review of Books *

About Victoria Kahn (Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley)

Victoria Kahn is the Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Rhetoric, Prudence, and Skepticism in the Renaissance (Cornell University Press, 1985), Machiavellian Rhetoric: From the Counter-Reformation to Milton (Princeton University Press, 1994), Wayward Contracts: The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, 1640-1674 (Princeton University Press, 2004), and The Future of Illusion: Political Theology and Early Modern Texts (University of Chicago Press, 2014). She has edited Machiavelli and the Discourse of Literature (Cornell University Press, 1993), Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe (Yale University Press, 2001), and Politics and the Passions (Princeton University Press, 2006).

Table of Contents

1: Literature and Literariness 2: Hobbes and Maker's Knowledge 3: Milton and the Problem of Belief 4: Modern Literariness: Kant, Kierkegaard, and Coetzee Bibliography Index

Additional information

NPB9780198808749
9780198808749
0198808747
The Trouble with Literature by Victoria Kahn (Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, Katherine Bixby Hotchkis Chair in English and Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley)
New
Hardback
Oxford University Press
2020-03-04
208
N/A
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