Literary Theory

  • Founded
  • Seminar Number

This seminar has had a long and distinguished history at Columbia. Originally called Theory of Literature (469), it was revived under its current title in 2006 with a view to pursuing the relations between literature, philosophy, and the politics that pervades our cultural production and its study. For some time now, literary studies has been engaged in wider theoretical approaches to texts and to the very idea of literature and criticism, and the seminar hopes to take philosophical stock of this tendency as well as to try to bring to it, wherever possible, more creative and more rigorous angles. These goals will initially be pursued broadly and ecumenically and should it turn out that one or other theme surfaces, which demands our sustained focus, the seminar will very likely take it up for a whole year, approaching it from different angles. For the most part, one of the members will circulate a paper, introduced for the seminar by another member, but occasionally, we will invite a speaker from outside the membership.

Professor Bruce Robbins


Victoria Wiet

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.



09/29/2016 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Bourgeois Universality and Anthropological Differences
Étienne Balibar, Université de Paris X and Columbia University

Respondent: Rosalind Morris, Columbia University

10/25/2016 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
The Relatable as an Aesthetic Category
Nirvana Tanoukhi, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Respondent: Jane Gaines, Columbia University

11/09/2016 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Foundations of the Dialectic
Andrew Cole, Princeton University

Respondent: Patricia Dailey, Columbia University

12/07/2016 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Running after Du Bois
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University

Respondent: Brent Edwards, Columbia University

02/07/2017 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
On Womanly Nihilism: Beauvoir and Us
Robyn Marasco, Hunter College, CUNY

Respondent: Elisabeth Ladenson, Columbia University

03/06/2017 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain
Clair Wills, Princeton University

Respondent: Michael Rubenstein , Stony Brook, SUNY

04/20/2017 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Haitian Revolutionary Out-takes: Brecht, Fanon, Baraka
Jeremy Glick, Hunter College-CUNY

Respondent: Anthony Alessandrini, Kingsborough Community College-CUNY

05/10/2017 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:15 PM
Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy in American World Literature
Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh

Respondent: Joseph Slaughter, Columbia University