Speaker: William N. Coker, Assistant Professor, Bilkent University Cultures, Civilizations, and Ideas
Date: 24 May 2023
Venue: G 160
Title: Remembering the Future: The Rebirth of the Dialectic in the Romantic Novel
Abstract: At the very beginning of the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant refutes geometry’s claim to serve as a model for metaphysics, closing the door on Plato’s Meno and its myth of recollection. Plato’s backward-looking dialectic gives way to the forward-looking stance of Kantian critique, which aims to help the sciences anticipate new discoveries. Yet the two decades following Kant’s critical revolution witness the rise of a novelistic literature in German in which dialectical thought is born again, even before Hegel. Drawing on Friedrich Schlegel, Jean Paul, and Friedrich Hölderlin, this talk traces the emergence of a new Plato after Kant, one who authorizes the novel as the authoritative genre for a time of revolutionary ruptures and utopian aspirations.
Bio.: Having earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale in 2010, William Coker focuses on the Romantic era and its legacies in German, English, and French literature, and in critical theory. He has published articles and chapters in journals such as _Comparative Literature_, _Criticism_ and _Religion and Literature_, and in several edited volumes. The present talk comprises material from his book project on the Romantic-era novel and the rebirth of dialectical thought.