October 29, 2008
Presenter: Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra
Respondent: Catharine Stimpson
Comparative Literary Study
On Literary Representation, the Importance of Reading, and the Defining the Work of the Comparatist
In this session of the Forum, I gave a broad overview of the development of literary study and criticism, which emphasized the question of the "what" vs. "how" of literary representation as an organizing center for the talk. Drawing from Gayatri Spivak's Death of a Discipline, I then discussed the particular place and practice of Comparative Literature within the broader field of literary study, particularly in its relationship to Area Studies. Building on a speech given earlier in 2008, I then discussed the importance of reading --critically-- in relation to politics, in order to demonstrate the difficult relationship between concrete political action and critical literary analysis. Finally, I presented a brief example of criticism "at work" in a short paper, "Strategies of Suspension: On the Means of Dis-location in Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, Comtesse de Merlin’s La Havane (1844)," which was originally delivered at the April, 2008 meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association.