GLITS conference 2009


Goldsmiths Literature Seminar ‌presents the first GLITS Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference:

Mindful of Otherness: Literature and Ethics

13 June 2009

Plenary speaker: Robert Eaglestone

To respond to the demand of the literary work as the demand of the other is to attend to it as a unique event whose happening is a call, a challenge, an obligation: understand how little you understand me.’ (Derek Attridge)

All ethical predication based on recognition of the other should be purely and simply abandoned.’ (Alain Badiou)

Conference details

Attendance is free of charge.

Conference Organisers: Catherine Humble, Eva Aldea, Leif Bull, Adri Drori, Kevin O'Neill

Rm 308 and 309 Richard Hoggart Building
Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross
London, SE14 6NW

Accommodation: Goldsmiths offers a full range of accommodation throughout the Summer vacation.

Mindful of otherness

The conception of ethics as ‘responsibility to otherness’ has dominated literary criticism for the last forty years. With this approach, alertness to the opacity of meaning in the text provokes respect for that which is unknown in the other person. This view of ethics is oriented around the category of the other - a category that is being met with new resistance.

Prominent voices are beginning to contest the ‘ethics of otherness’ in the name of ethics based on universal truths and identity. Where it was once radical for literary studies to affirm the dissolution of subjectivity, the stability of the subject is now being upheld. Where ‘particularity’ was once in vogue, the ‘universal’ is now the buzzword. The ‘impossibility of truth’ is gradually being eclipsed by ‘Truth’ claims. What does this backlash against literary theory mean for the ethics of literature? Why is it taking place now? How will it change the way we read literary texts?

The conference looks at how recent critiques of ‘otherness’ have affected both the reading and writing of literature. Contributions on both sides of the debate are examined: those mindful of the otherness of literature in the sense of ‘seeking to protect it’ and those displaying a mindful ‘wariness’ of otherness.