Special Issue "Ethics and Literary Practice"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Adam Zachary Newton
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University Professor Emeritus, Yeshiva University
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Emory University (2017)
Interests: ethics of reading; modern Jewish thought and literatures; narrative theory and the novel; hermeneutics and philosophy of language; critical Jewish studies; humanities, institutional history

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As a resurgent theoretical trend in humanities scholarship now in its fourth decade (cf. Nussbaum 1985, Miller 1987, Booth 1988, Siebers 1988, Phelan 1989, Newton 1995, McCance 1996, Eaglestone 1997, Posner 1997, Altieri 1998, Adamson, Freadman, Parker 1998, Attridge 1999, Buell 1999, Gibson 1999, Garber, Hanssen, Walkowitz 2000, Davis and Womack 2001, George 2005,  Attridge 2006, Levine 2009, Rossiter 2010, Altes 2014, Biwu 2014, Gregory 2019, Serpell 2014, Kingwell 2014, Doran 2017, Meretoja and David, 2018), “ethics and literary practice” names an inquiry that remains productively open to question. This special issue of Humanities will explore intersections between its organizing concepts as provocations rather than givens within a range of fields, heuristic frames, analytical categories, and discourses. Take the following as illustrative.

  1. “[I]insofar as we take literature to be ethically significant in an exemplary way, we may want to start thinking about locating its ethical force not so much in its referential makeup and thematics as in, among other things, what I would call, for lack of a better term, its discursive transformational ‘‘capaciousness,’’ that is, in its ability to absorb and transform virtually any kind of discourse, including the discourse of ethics” (Eskin, 2004).
  2. “How to think of ethics? Can one think of ethics? As the locus of otherness, ethics seems to lack integrity ‘in itself,’ and perhaps ought to be considered a matrix, a hub from which various discourses, concepts, terms, energies, fan out, and at which they meet, crossing out of themselves to encounter the other, all the others. E]thics exerts whatever forceit does by virtue of its singular capacity to adhere to, affiliate with, bury itself in, provoke, or dislodge other discourses; ethics realizes its full creative potential not in ‘itself’ but as a kind of x-factor, a bracingly alien incitement to inquiry and discrimination” (Harpham, 1999). 

Each of these meta-statements lays claim to either ethics or literature as the more multiplicative factor, the integer that boasts coefficient pride of place.  A conjunction as ancient as any topic in the philosophical tradition evidently remains just as protean and generative for post-traditional thought—perhaps even more so. 

Traditionally, ethical questions about literary practice have taken the form of, “is this book morally praiseworthy?”; or, “does this character model virtue and the good life?”;  or, “does that story satisfactorily emplot life’s moral complexity?”;  or, “has my reading of this text enlarged or deepened me?”  More recently, such problematics have been formulated as questions about otherness and witnessing, i.e., how are readers obliged for responsible to what they read (Attridge 2006)?  What, in turn, do such texts owe their readers as imaginative vehicles for the representation and productive misrepresentation of reality?  How, accordingly, do texts remain answerable to themselves, to their own formal, and deforming, dictates?   How does the act of reading train or practice answerability?  Which modality of reading, say, symptomatic vs. surface (Best and Marcus, 2009), am I being called upon to exercise and report on, and how do they differ, ethically speaking?  Do I read alone or in company?  How is the question of ethics also a question of politics: or are these different questions?   How might such concerns be adapted for other kinds or orders of textuality, say, the scriptural and religious, or for photography and cinema, which utilize an alternative “grammar or ethics of seeing” (Sontag, 1977)?  Loss, accord, appeal, wound, insomnia, touch: what does literary reading make happen?  How exactly does a text “advene” (Barthes, 1980)?  What does it mean to read “like a professor”—or for that matter, like an insurgent, like a native, like Proust, like Thoreau, Baldwin, like (Zadie) Smith, like another?    

What changes ethically if literature names an “act” (Derrida, 1992) as opposed to a “thing done” (James, 1904), an event or eventuation alongside a deed?   What, indeed, are the ethics of literature, and further, of reading, of genre, of performance, of translation, of fiction, of critique, of practice?  With the late Philip Roth, are we satisfied that literature’s “high calling” is a function of an “ethical dimension that had to do with being true to the words, with being true to the imagined thing” (2008), the moral perfectionism, as it were, of sentences?  What other dimensions lie alongside or even vie with rhetorical/imaginative fidelity, of truth-telling? Similarly, do acts of reading and criticism do more or otherwise than tell truth? If criticism, for example, “exists as a public’s mode of comportment…detach[ing] art from its irresponsibility by envisaging its technique” (Levinas, 1968), where does annotation end and adjudication begin?  What is “the ethical turn” in literary questioning turning from or towards or around or against, as overseen by modulations in the last thirty years or so of humanities research?

Under this special issue’s governing rubric, propositions and citations like those above map provisional coordinates for its conceptual focus.  Papers that explore inter-discursive possibilities are particularly welcome, as are those that situate themselves in the contested “between” of literature-and-ethics. Essays might feature treatments of individual texts or genres, (including film and other media), the elaboration of intertexts, or theoretical interventions, both literary and philosophical. Following are some suggested perspectives: meta-ethical and literary theory; analytic and continental philosophical schools; “the way we read now”; rhetoric(s); interpretive community, technology of representation; cultural, historical, national/hemispheric context; ancient, modern, or contemporary cultures; comparative frameworks; language and translation; aesthetics, truth, eventfulness; ethno-racial identity, nationality, and gender; embodiment and materiality; humanism and posthumanism; digital humanities, intermediality, and the 21st century university; pedagogy and the archive; politics and the political; the public space; globalism and the planetary; ecocriticism and environmental humanities; the human and its others; the contemporary post-/anti-liberal moment; homage, e.g. Roth, Ashbery, Le Guin, Walcott, C.D. Wright, Imre Kertész, Liu Xiaobo, Stanley Cavell.

Please send a one-page proposal by the middle of October 2018 including your name, the title of your paper, any academic or community affiliations, and email address to [email protected].

Dr. Adam Zachary Newton
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ethics
  • literature
  • reading
  • criticism
  • practice
  • event
  • responsibility
  • politics
  • humanities

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Neorealism, Contingency, and the Linguistic Turn
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040176 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Since the publication of Roman Jakobson’s famous 1956 essay “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances”, we have tended to read the relationship between metaphor and metonymy as a dialectical one. The essay argues that this approach stands in need [...] Read more.
Since the publication of Roman Jakobson’s famous 1956 essay “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances”, we have tended to read the relationship between metaphor and metonymy as a dialectical one. The essay argues that this approach stands in need of revision, since metonymy, as a trope—and as a trope, moreover, of contingency—undermines the dialectical relationship between the syntagmatic and the paradigmatic axes. This has far-reaching implications, specifically for the assessment of literature and its ethics. Since metaphor functions structurally analogous to dialectics itself, metonymy and its role in realism and neorealism might offer us a way to think an “ethics of contingency” that acknowledges the role of contingency, rather that suppressing it and its role in preventing closure through sublation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
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Open AccessArticle
Attention, Representation, and Unsettlement in Katherena Vermette’s The Break, or, Teaching and (Re)Learning the Ethics of Reading
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040164 - 16 Oct 2019
Abstract
Theories of literary ethics often emphasize either content or the structural relationship between text and reader, and they tend to bracket pedagogy. This essay advocates instead for an approach that sees literary representation and readerly attention as interanimating and that considers teaching an [...] Read more.
Theories of literary ethics often emphasize either content or the structural relationship between text and reader, and they tend to bracket pedagogy. This essay advocates instead for an approach that sees literary representation and readerly attention as interanimating and that considers teaching an important aspect of an ethics of reading. To support these positions, I turn to Katherena Vermette’s 2016 novel The Break, which both represents the urgent injustice of sexualized violence against Indigenous women and girls and also metafictionally comments on the ethics of witnessing. Describing how I read with my students the novel’s insistent thematization of face-to-face encounters and practices of attention as an invitation to read with Emmanuel Levinas and Simone Weil, I explicate the text’s self-aware commentary on both the need for readers to resist self-enlargement in their encounters with others’ stories and also the danger of generalizing readerly responsibility or losing sight of the material realities the text represents. I source these challenges both in the novel and in my students’ multiple particularities as readers facing the textual other. Ultimately, the essay argues for a more careful attention to which works we bring into our theorizing of literary ethics, and which theoretical frames we bring into classroom conversations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Affect and Porosity: Ethics and Literature between Teresa Brennan and Hélène Cixous
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040160 - 11 Oct 2019
Abstract
In her posthumously published work The Transmission of Affect, Teresa Brennan challenges the modern ego’s understanding of itself as self-contained. This illusion, she argues, is supported by what she refers to as the “foundational fantasy”. In explaining what this means, Brennan rejects [...] Read more.
In her posthumously published work The Transmission of Affect, Teresa Brennan challenges the modern ego’s understanding of itself as self-contained. This illusion, she argues, is supported by what she refers to as the “foundational fantasy”. In explaining what this means, Brennan rejects a bounded sense of the self, arguing that affect (both positive and negative) circulates energetically between subjects. In patriarchal cultures, mothers (and “feminine beings”) act as repositories of projected fear, typically carrying the greater burden of the negative affects—anger, aggression, and envy. Importantly, Brennan’s work brings the question of intersubjective boundaries to the fore, arguing that these are open, and that any account of ethical relations between self and other needs to acknowledge this. Drawing on pre-modern sources, she develops a new theory of intersubjective and energetic affectivity and, in a positive vein, offers love—in the form of attention and discernment—as the positive gift of affect that can potentially circulate between bodies, infusing intersubjective relations with life. Brennan’s work on the transmission of affect offers a bold and very political philosophical intervention into early twenty-first century ethical accounts. Her exploration of the intricacies of our relational entanglements with others and the material world challenges our understanding of what it means to be a self in relation to others. In effect, her account of the transmission of affect highlights the other’s vulnerability to my affect, to my hostile projections, even as it accounts for the flow of affect in both directions. In a slightly different way, Hélène Cixous offers us an account of our relations with others that focusses on the self’s openness to the force of the other, the self’s vulnerability to the dangerous other. Here, the other is the focus of a potential threat, a potential undoing of the self. For Cixous, writing is the place of witness to the unfolding of this vulnerability or porosity between two (entre deux). While this essay focuses on Brennan’s philosophical account, and the potentially paradoxical nature of her work to produce a theory of affect, it offers a brief discussion of the ways in which Cixous’s focus on literature and writing provide a different frame for appreciating the challenge that Brennan’s work makes. It explores the important ways in which Cixous extends Brennan’s philosophical concerns to the domains of literature and writing. Throughout her work, Brennan calls for us to invent or reinvent a vocabulary for the exploration of discernment, the protective attitude of thoughtfulness that opens us to the other. Cixous’s work, I argue, embodies this call in hopeful and optimistic ways. As such, it allows us to think of literature and writing as privileged sites for the exploration of our complex intersubjective relations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Reading (with) Hannah Arendt: Aesthetic Representation for an Ethics of Alterity
Humanities 2019, 8(4), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8040155 - 24 Sep 2019
Abstract
Hannah Arendt’s interest in literature was part of a broader concern, which was inspired by her reading of Kant, with the role played by aesthetic representation in ethical and political judgment. Her rich repertoire of writings about literature deserves to be considered alongside [...] Read more.
Hannah Arendt’s interest in literature was part of a broader concern, which was inspired by her reading of Kant, with the role played by aesthetic representation in ethical and political judgment. Her rich repertoire of writings about literature deserves to be considered alongside the works more commonly associated with the ethical turn in literary studies. Arendt’s unique contribution, I argue here, is a heightened awareness of the assimilative tendencies of aesthetic and cultural representation, coupled with a critique of empathy as potentially illusory or even condescending when confronted with a political judgment that is set up to absorb difference. To recognize alterity requires us, if we follow Arendt, to understand otherness “in acting and speaking,” as she argued in The Human Condition. Much of her philosophical and political work was dedicated to understanding the obstacles facing human togetherness, so that she could suggest ways for us to overcome them. Aesthetic representation, in her view, was one of the most effective strategies for achieving community because it offers a reconstruction of another’s viewpoints that invites both an imaginative projection and a sustained cognitive effort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
‘A Pause for Po-Ethics’: Seamus Heaney and the Ethics of Aesthetics
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030138 - 12 Aug 2019
Abstract
In this paper, I examine the connections between ethics and aesthetics in the writing of Seamus Heaney. Looking at Heaney’s neologism of ‘po-ethics’, I move through his poetry and especially his translation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, entitled The Cure at Troy, and [...] Read more.
In this paper, I examine the connections between ethics and aesthetics in the writing of Seamus Heaney. Looking at Heaney’s neologism of ‘po-ethics’, I move through his poetry and especially his translation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, entitled The Cure at Troy, and focus on his Fourth Irish Human Rights Commission Annual Human Rights Lecture: Writer & Righter, wherein he traces a number of strong connections between human rights workers and creative writers. The essay is written through a theoretical matrix of the ethical theories of Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas and Simon Critchley. It looks at poems from Heaney himself, as well as work from Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Czeslaw Miłosz, and Primo Levi. It focuses on poetic language as a discourse that can act as a counterweight and as a form of redress on behalf of the dignity of the individual human being against the pressures of mass culture and society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
The Answer is Paracritical: Caribbean Literature and The Limits of Critique
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030126 - 16 Jul 2019
Abstract
I argue that both Rita Felski’s postcritical model (as articulated in The Limits of Critique) and its academic reception are made possible only by ignoring or erasing African-American and Afro-Caribbean modes of engagement with art that predate and complicate the critical-postcritical binary. [...] Read more.
I argue that both Rita Felski’s postcritical model (as articulated in The Limits of Critique) and its academic reception are made possible only by ignoring or erasing African-American and Afro-Caribbean modes of engagement with art that predate and complicate the critical-postcritical binary. To counteract the vanguardism of this trend in literary studies, I pair Caribbean philosopher-poet Edouard Glissant’s meditation on the origins of Creole speech as an indirect language of “detour” with Nathaniel Mackey’s theorizing of black art as “paracritical”—a mode that assimilates performance and critique, language and metalanguage, and that sits adjacent to (and not against or behind) traditionally academic discourses of engaging with literature. If Glissant provides the cultural and philosophical frame for an Afro-Caribbean way of reading literature, Mackey supplies the artistic metaphor par excellence of the paracritical hinge, voiced in the idioms of jazz and blues. Finally, I examine how Glissant and Mackey’s ideas find formal and aesthetic expression in Trinidadian-Canadian author Dionne Brand’s 2005 novel What We All Long For, paying attention to the reader response engendered by the adjacencies of violence, empowerment, possibility, and desire in the novel. In order to analyze What We All Long For, we must promote the liveliness and vivacity of the reading experience and put the text under ethical scrutiny, evincing the paracritical faculty that Afro-Caribbean art demands: commingling the twin pleasures of reading and interpretation, establishing a counter-hegemonic model of literary engagement that implicates the reader without stripping away reading’s pleasure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Towards a Decolonial Narrative Ethics
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030120 - 03 Jul 2019
Abstract
This essay explores the contribution of two works of German literature to a decolonial narrative ethics. It analyzes the structures of colonialism, taking narratives as a medium of and for ethical reflection, and reinterprets the ethical concepts of recognition and responsibility. This essay [...] Read more.
This essay explores the contribution of two works of German literature to a decolonial narrative ethics. It analyzes the structures of colonialism, taking narratives as a medium of and for ethical reflection, and reinterprets the ethical concepts of recognition and responsibility. This essay examines two stories. Franz Kafka’s Report to an Academy (1917) addresses the biological racism of the German scientists around 1900, unmasking the racism that renders apes (or particular people) the pre-life of human beings (or particular human beings). It also demonstrates that the politics of recognition, based on conditional (mis-)recognition, must be replaced by an ethics of mutual recognition. Uwe Timm’s Morenga (1978) uses the cross-reference of history and fiction as an aesthetic principle, narrating the history of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero people at the beginning of the 20th century. Intercultural understanding, the novel shows, is impossible when it is based on the conditional, colonial (mis-)recognition that echoes Kafka’s unmasking; furthermore, the novel illuminates the interrelation of recognition and responsibility that requires not only an aesthetic ethics of reading based on attentiveness and response but also a political ethics that confronts the (German) readers as historically situated agents who must take responsibility for their past. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
The Fallacy of Analogy and the Risk of Moral Imperialism: Israeli Literature and the Palestinian Other
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030119 - 02 Jul 2019
Abstract
This article discusses the role of analogy within the ethics of reading. It examines how Israeli literature uses analogies when reflecting on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Many literary texts that depict the Israeli–Palestinian conflict draw analogies between the Israeli Jewish people and the Palestinians, [...] Read more.
This article discusses the role of analogy within the ethics of reading. It examines how Israeli literature uses analogies when reflecting on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Many literary texts that depict the Israeli–Palestinian conflict draw analogies between the Israeli Jewish people and the Palestinians, between specific individuals on both sides, or between historical traumas. These analogies are designed to bridge gaps and encourage empathetic reading. This article challenges this role of analogy by arguing that analogies may in fact paint an erroneous picture of symmetrical relations, strengthen victimhood that denies responsibility, and can often lead to “empty empathy.” Analogies may also create a willfully deceptive understanding of the other, while actually maintaining a narcissistic superior stance. Based on philosophical notions put forward by Emmanuel Levinas, this article suggests a different path to ethical understanding in which the literary text, while still enabling analogy, uses other rhetorical devices to create relationships that suspend it and reveal its imposture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Endlessly Responsible: Ethics as First Philosophy in Stanley Cavell’s Invocation of Literature
Humanities 2019, 8(2), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020114 - 17 Jun 2019
Abstract
This essay aims to give an overview of the topic ethics and literature in Stanley Cavell’s complete oeuvre. It argues that Cavell’s preoccupation with literature is, from beginning to end, primarily ethical, even though he takes his point of departure in epistemological skepticism. [...] Read more.
This essay aims to give an overview of the topic ethics and literature in Stanley Cavell’s complete oeuvre. It argues that Cavell’s preoccupation with literature is, from beginning to end, primarily ethical, even though he takes his point of departure in epistemological skepticism. Recent research on the affinities between Cavell’s early writing on Shakespearean tragedy and the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas has helped to establish this but the question of how this part of Cavell’s work is related to his later development of Emersonian perfectionism is rarely touched upon. Consequently, this essay further argues that skepticism and perfectionism in Cavell’s thinking are two sides of one and the same ethics, which are bound together by the genre of romanticism. While Cavell’s work on skepticism is primarily concerned with the other, his work on perfectionism is primarily concerned with the self. Finally, this essay marks the point where Cavell’s and Levinas’ overall thinking part ways due to the fact that Cavell embraces Emersonian perfectionism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Interlocutors, Nonhuman Actors, and the Ethics of Literary Signification
Humanities 2019, 8(2), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020108 - 30 May 2019
Abstract
Associating autonomy with art has long been viewed with suspicion, but autonomous signifying agency may be attributed to literary discourse without lapsing into decontextualized aestheticism or neoliberal conceptions of subjectivity. Through literary practices that “move” readers in a “singular” manner, a work becomes [...] Read more.
Associating autonomy with art has long been viewed with suspicion, but autonomous signifying agency may be attributed to literary discourse without lapsing into decontextualized aestheticism or neoliberal conceptions of subjectivity. Through literary practices that “move” readers in a “singular” manner, a work becomes what Rita Felski, following Bruno Latour, calls a “nonhuman actor.” Such an actor, Felski observes, “modifies a state of affairs by making a difference,” participating “in chains of events” so as to “help shape outcomes and influence events” (2015, pp. 163–64). Autonomous signifying agency within works and literary discourse more broadly enables them to become actors within what Latour terms “networks of associations” through which “the social” is constantly “reassembled.” But literary works also act as interlocutors, in the sense Levinas gives the word (1996a, pp. 2–10). Though not full-fledged ethical others, they nonetheless, as interlocutors, are sufficiently invested with the attributes and agency of ethical others to be their extensions or ambassadors Nonhuman, interlocutory literary agency may be explored in iconic passages of ancient literature—Telemachus’ recognition that he is being visited by a god (Odyssey Book 1: ll. 319–24) and Judah’s recognition that Tamar is more “righteous” than he (Gen. 38: 26). In being authoritative but not authoritarian, literary discourse becomes a potently autonomous actor within the networks of associations in which it participates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Ethical Mimesis and Emergence Aesthetics
Humanities 2019, 8(2), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020102 - 22 May 2019
Abstract
In nature the transformation of dead matter (objects) into living matter endowed with green energy or subjectivity is called emergence. Art itself, I argue, is an emergence phenomenon, enacting and replicating in theme and form emergence in nature. Literature thus conceived is [...] Read more.
In nature the transformation of dead matter (objects) into living matter endowed with green energy or subjectivity is called emergence. Art itself, I argue, is an emergence phenomenon, enacting and replicating in theme and form emergence in nature. Literature thus conceived is about the emergence of spirit. It depicts forces that suppress spirit and enables the spiritual in nature to find expression. It gives voice to spirit rising. Mimesis is thus reconceived as a replication of the natural phenomenon of emergence, which brings to life what has hitherto been seen as object, dead matter. This article outlines the concept of emergence in current philosophical and scientific theories; examines the aesthetic precursors of emergence theory in certain Frankfurt School theorists, notably Theodor Adorno; and applies emergence aesthetic theory to a contemporary novel, Richard Powers’ The Overstory (2018). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
Open AccessArticle
Senses of Echo Lake: Michael Palmer, Stanley Cavell, and the Moods of an American Philosophical Tradition
Humanities 2019, 8(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020098 - 19 May 2019
Abstract
This essay explores a philosophical tradition that Stanley Cavell has traced out and which he emphasizes as being American inasmuch as it is arises out of the thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It then investigates how the poems of [...] Read more.
This essay explores a philosophical tradition that Stanley Cavell has traced out and which he emphasizes as being American inasmuch as it is arises out of the thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It then investigates how the poems of the avant-garde poet Michael Palmer link with, overlap with, this strain of American philosophy in terms of how it enacts an understanding of what we might call “philosophical mood,” on outlook based on the navigation of representation, generative self-consciousness, and doubt that amounts to a form of epistemology. The essay does not trace the influence—direct or otherwise of Cavell and his arguments for philosophy on the poems, despite a biographical connection between Cavell and Palmer, his former student. Instead it brings out the way that one might fruitfully locate Palmer’s work within an American literary/philosophical continuum. The article shows how that context opens up the work to a range of important existential and ethical implications. I endeavor to show that Notes for Echo Lake, Palmer’s most important collection, locates itself, its language, within such a frame so as to provide a place for readerly encounters with the limitations of language. These encounters then are presented as an opportunity for a deeper understanding of subjectivity and for attuning oneself to the role that active reading and interpretation might play in moral perfectionism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Literary Practice)
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