SEIS Academic Forum Series（No.752）
Forum on British and American Literature Studies
Literature, Ethics and memory: from Levinas to Arendt
Speaker: Prof. Robert Eaglestone
Time: 16:00-18:00 p.m.
Date: 18th Nov. 2019 (Monday)
Venue: Seminar Hall, Fourth Floor, BFSU Library
This lecture draws on the work of Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas to outline a theory of the relationship between the literary, ethics and a sense of, and engagement with, the past. While Levinas offers a powerful account of intersubjective ethics, his thought – as Jacques Derrida and others have argued -- finds difficulties engaging both with texts and with the past. In my exploration of the ethical responsibility we might have for the past, for memory, and the significance of the literary in this, I turn to the work of Hannah Arendt – another thinker marked by the Nazi Holocaust as well as by the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. While Arendt is often seen as a champion of ‘natality’, the constant possibility of newness, she is also deeply engaged with thinking through the past, and our responsibilities towards the past, in order to help us build a shared world in the present.
About the speaker:
Robert Eaglestone is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London. He works on contemporary literature and literary theory, contemporary philosophy and on Holocaust and Genocide studies. He is the author of seven books. His work has been translated in to six languages. He is the Series Editor of Routledge Critical Thinkers, which has 41 volumes. He has spoken at most of the major UK Literary Festivals and on UK national radio. He has advised the UK government on the teaching of English Literature. He won a National Teaching Fellowship Award in 2014.