Seminar in Hispanic Studies

HISP-S708 — Spring 2022

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Patrick Dove
BH 315
Days and Times
M 4:55P-7:25P
Course Description

VT: Borges: Literary, Aesthetics, History, Thought

This seminar undertakes a comprehensive study of the prose work of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, ranging from his early nostalgic interest in regional and national cultural traditions (the gaucho and other “sketchy” figures of the social margins, the Pampa, the forgotten suburbs or “orillas” of modernizing Buenos Aires) during the 1920s and early 30s to the later explorations of the so-called “universal” themes of Western and cosmopolitan traditions. One of the focal points for our discussions and research will be to develop a working account of how aesthetic experience is conceived and how it happens in Borges, what it looks like (or feels or sounds like) and what it opens up for thinking—about time and space, about history and world, among other things. With a few notable exceptions, Borges criticism has made very little progress when it comes to thinking about the aesthetic, and has by and large remained satisfied with reciting the tropes and motifs that Borges used to talk about his own work (e.g., the labyrinth, universal literature, reality as fiction, and so on).  While the encounter with the aesthetic in reading Borges unquestionably opens itself in exciting ways to philosophically-oriented questioning, this doesn’t mean that literature simply does the work of philosophy for Borges. Equally important for us, then, will be the question of how literature destabilizes or resists philosophical disciplinarity (and perhaps this is to say, disciplinarity in general) understood as systematic endeavor to establish and secure a solid ground for knowledge production. Literature, for Borges, is not just opposed to the systematic demands of the disciplines: it outwardly seeks that which all systems must suppress, bringing us into proximity with a thought of uncertain ground or groundlessness at the heart of language, history, and the social. In conjunction with Borges’s prose work, we will look at critical and philosophical writings by Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Derrida, de Man, Beatriz Sarlo, Alberto Moreiras, Kate Jenckes, and David Johnson among others. Seminar may be conducted in English if warranted.

HISP-S 708     #31870           4:55P-7:25P          M             BH 315           Prof. Patrick Dove

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