Annual workshop of the AILC / ICLA Research Committee on Literary Theory
23.06.2017 – 24.06.2017


Ort: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et., Trajekte-Tagungsraum
Kontakt: Stefan Willer

The English language has a way of differentiating ›criticism‹ and ›critique‹ that is absent from other European languages. As is often explained, ›critique‹ rather refers to the philosophical tradition of critical thought—as in »Critique of Pure Reason«—whereas ›criticism‹ denotes its more down-to-earth applications, such as literary criticism. Even though this distinction obviously underrates the complexities of literary evaluation, it has been and is being used to introduce value judgments with respect to literary criticism itself. To cite a blunt example: »criticism finds fault/critique looks at structure«, »criticism is spoken with a cruel and sarcastic tone/critique's voice is kind, honest, and objective«, »criticism is negative/critique is positive« (Judy Reeves, Guide for Writers and Writing Groups, 2002).

As simplistic as these dichotomies may be, they address long-standing epistemological and ethical problems. On the one hand, according to Rodolphe Gasché, critique in the history of modern philosophy, starting with Descartes, »entails a new and radical negativity of thought.« On the other, it can be labelled essentially positive, as in Heidegger, who states that the Greek verb ›krinein‹ means »to lift out that of special sort« and thus designates »the most positive of the positive« (cf. Gasché's introduction to his Honor of Thinking, 2007). Between these extremes, a vast field of distinctions opens up, especially for literary and/or textual criticism. According to Friedrich Schleiermacher's reflections on Hermeneutik und Kritik (1810s–30s), critcism is both a judgment (»Gericht«) and a comparison (»Vergleichung«); it can be doctrinal and historical, lower and higher, documentary and divinatory, referring both to letter and spirit. Ultimately, for Schleiermacher, every slip of the tongue is a critical case, given that thought and speech diverge. Criticism hence becomes relevant for finding ›faults‹ in the broadest sense, but in a highly differentiated manner. Thus, the English distinction of ›critique‹ and ›criticism‹ can induce some more specific research into the techniques and theories of drawing distinctions.


Friday, 23 June 2017

9.30–10.45 (Chair: Stefan Willer)

  • Welcome & Introduction
  • Matthew Reynolds (Oxford): Creative Criticism?
  • Anne Duprat (Amiens): Literary Quarrels in Early Modern and Classical Literature. Critique or Criticism?

11.00–13.00 (Chair: John Zilcosky)

  • Jernej Habjan (Ljubljana): World Literature between Criticism and Critique. 1848, 1945, 1989, 2001, 2008
  • Yvonne Howell (Richmond): »Kritika« is not »critique«. Drawing distinctions in Russian aesthetic terminology
  • Raphaël Baroni (Lausanne): Behind the Claim of Objectivity. When French Structuralists Created a Blind Spot by Making Covered Criticism of Plot Dynamics

14.45–16.00 (Chair: Robert Stockhammer)

  • Sowon Park (Santa Barbara): Why I am So Clever
  • Phillip Rothwell (Oxford): The Poet as Critic

16.15–17.30 (Chair: Eva Horn)

  • Walid Hamarneh (Richmond): Translation Studies. From Criticism to Critique
  • Robert Young (New York University): Translation as Critique in Das Kapital

18.00–19.30 (Chair: Stefan Willer)

Public Keynote Lecture

  • Terry Eagleton (Coleraine): Critique and Postmodernism


Saturday, 24 June 2017

9.00–11.00 (Chair: Robert Young)

  • John Zilcosky (Toronto): Critical Ethnographies. Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, Literature
  • Eva Horn (Vienna): Between Critique and Criticism. The Tradition of Cultural Comparison
  • Eva Geulen (ZfL): Is it Possible to Criticize Forms of Life? A Critical Discussion of Rahel Jaeggi

11.15–13.15 (Chair: Sowon Park)

  • Michel Chaouli (Bloomington): The Truth Told Urgently
  • Divya Dwivedi (New Delhi): Criticism, Critique and the Ontology of the Literary
  • Stefan Willer (ZfL): Bruno Latour's Anti-Critique as a Phenomenon of Literary Criticism