Call for Papers: Issue 4 of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies

Amir Khan, the managing editor (together with Sérgio Dias Branco) of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies has shared with us this Call for Papers for the journal’s fourth issue. Please see it below:

Call For Paper NO. 4: Literary Cavell

In what sense is Cavell’s work indebted to literature, or literary precursors? While much is made of his writings on Shakespeare, Cavell has other literary interests manifested in writings on the Romantic poets (In Quest for the Ordinary, particularly his reading of Kant and Coleridge), 19th/20th century playwrights (Ibsen, Shaw, Beckett), and a sparse scattering of prose on a select cadre of novelists (Austen, Dickens, James, for example). For the fourth issue of Conversations, we seek submissions that engage with Cavell’s literary influences and influence, and pose the question of whether Cavell is reading literature philosophically or whether he is reading philosophy like literature, or whether, indeed, it is profitable to pose such questions at all. Where do Emerson and Thoreau fit into this discussion? Possible topics include:

– Philosophical versus literary romanticism

– Cavell and Austen and Austin

– Ordinary language and the theatre

– Wittgenstein as literature

– Philosophy and close reading

– Freudian close reading

– Literary transcendentalism

– Style and literary expression

– Cavellian Shakespeare

We also welcome shorter essays and responses that directly address Cavell’s concluding question to The Claim of Reason.

Papers should be approximately 6000 words, including footnotes, and must follow the notes and bibliography citation system described in The Chicago Manual of Style. Shorter, more intimate pieces of around 1200 words are also acceptable. Please email complete articles to Amir Khan at akhan134 at If submitting via the online user interface, please notify one of the managing editors in a separate email. All submissions due September 15th, 2015.

Panel on Vincent Descombes: Harvard University, April 16


Professor Richard Moran (Harvard Philosophy Department) is organizing a panel at Harvard on the recent English translation of the book The Institutions of Meaning by the French philosopher Vincent Descombes. (An earlier post about this translation appeared here.) The panel will take place on Thursday April 16 from 1-4 PM at the Center for European Studies Lower Level Conference Room. The panelists include:

Vincent Descombes (L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale, Paris)

Richard Moran (Philosophy, Harvard University)

Frederick Neuhouser (Philosophy, Barnard College/Columbia University)

Webb Keane (Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

Charles Larmore (Philosophy, Brown University)

The event will take place with the support of the Harvard Provostial Funds for the Humanities and the Harvard Department of Philosophy.

Vincent Descombes is also the author of, among his books translated into English, The Mind’s Provisions (Princeton, 2001), Modern French Philosophy (Cambridge, 1980), and Proust: Philosophy of the Novel (Stanford, 1992).

Jon Baskin on Ben Lerner and the Novel of Detachment


Ben Lerner

In his recent review of Ben Lerner’s 10:04 (“Always Already Alienated,” The Nation) Jon Baskin explores themes of bad faith, fraudulence, and misanthropy in contemporary American fiction. Baskin’s prose is as precise as ever and his insights shine out. I dare say his review does the rare work of ‘raising and cheering’ us (à la Emerson’s American Scholar). Of course I encourage you to read the essay in full. At the risk of spoiling your dinner, I include the punchline below.

. . . Though they measure success by different criteria, this doesn’t mean it is impossible to adjudicate between the novel of detachment and other trends in contemporary literary fiction. I’m sure my preference is clear. “A wise and hardy physician will say,” wrote Emerson in his great essay “Experience,” “Come out of that, as the first condition of advice.” What Lerner calls “fraudulence” does not indicate the failure of modern society but the condition of its possibility. We show different parts of ourselves to different people; there is a gap between our inner lives and our public “performance”; at times, it is incumbent upon us to assume roles that may feel artificial to us, or to hide what we are feeling from those closest to us. So what? We have been acknowledging such facts for some time now; perhaps we are ready for an art that will accept them, and keep walking.

7th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School 2015 (Cora Diamond, James Conant): Applications due March 30

logo_newThis year’s Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School (for university students in philosophy) will be held in Kirchberg, Austria August 5-8 and will be co-taught by Cora Diamond and Jim Conant. The topic this year is Wittgenstein on Following a Rule: Philosophical Investigations, Sections 185-242. See below for more information. The deadline for applications is March 30.

7th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School 2015 (Cora Diamond, James Conant)

5th – 8th of August 2015 in Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria

Wittgenstein on Following a Rule:
Philosophical Investigations,
Sections 185-242

With: Cora Diamond (Charlottesville) and James Conant (Chicago)

Scientific Organization and Direction: Volker A. Munz (Klagenfurt)

You can download the poster with this link.

Maximum number of participants: 40
Application deadline (registration and payment): 30 March 2015 (Later applications can unfortunately not be taken into account.)
Information concerning acceptance/non-acceptance: 30 April 2015 (Full reimbursement in case of non-acceptance)

Accommodation will be organized by the ALWS and is located just opposite the conference centre. Private booking possible.

Summer school participants are invited to join the 38th International Wittgenstein Symposium: Realism – Relativism – Constructivism. Kirchberg am Wechsel,
9 – 15 of August 2015 at reduced fees.

220 Euro including conference participation (180 Euro for ALWS members)
180 Euro summer school only (150 Euro for ALWS members).
Summer school fees can be reimbursed only until 15 June 2015 (minus 20 Euro handling charge).
(Refunding of later cancellation: 110 Euro / 90 Euro; minus 20 Euro handling charge)

Payment of the fees includes:
* Free board and lodging during the summer school (dormitory)
* Certificate of participation (working load in ECTS points)

Required qualifications: The summer school is addressed to advanced university students in philosophy. Elementary knowledge of Wittgenstein’s philosophy is desirable. Applicants are asked to send a transcript record and a 3-page preparatory essay on a selected subject of Philosophical Investigations, Sections 185-242

Further details concerning preparation (reading list), programme, etc. will be announced.

Teaching language: English

For registration please click here to get the registration form.

Please send your application documents to:
Volker A. Munz
Department of Philosophy
Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
Universitaetsstrasse 65-67

Coming Soon: Excursions with Thoreau by Ed Mooney (Now Available for Pre-Order)

9781501305665Out later this year from Bloomsbury: Edward F. Mooney’s Excursions with Thoreau: Philosophy, Poetry, Religion. Anyone who’s read Ed’s essays—whether on Kierkegaard, Cavell, Henry Bugbee, or personal philosophy generally—knows what a lyrical thinker and writer Ed is. I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to reading this newest batch of essays on Thoreau.


Excursions with Thoreau is a major new exploration of Thoreau’s writing and thought that is philosophical yet sensitive to the literary and religious.

Edward F. Mooney’s excursions through passages from Walden, Cape Cod, and his late essay “Walking” reveal Thoreau as a miraculous writer, artist, and religious adept. Of course Thoreau remains the familiar political activist and environmental philosopher, but in these fifteen excursions we discover new terrain. Among the notable themes that emerge are Thoreau’s grappling with underlying affliction; his pursuit of wonder as ameliorating affliction; his use of the enigmatic image of “a child of the mist”; his exalting “sympathy with intelligence” over plain knowledge; and his preferring “befitting reverie”-not argument-as the way to be carried to better, cleaner perceptions of reality.

Mooney’s aim is bring alive Thoreau’s moments of reverie and insight, and to frame his philosophy as poetic and episodic rather than discursive and systematic.

Table Of Contents

1. Overture
2. Celebration and Lamentation
3. Sympathy with Intelligence
4. Concord Reflections
5. Transforming Perception
6. Ethics and the Wild
7. Expressive Bones
8. Child of the Mist
9. Deaths and Rebirths
10. Affliction and Affinity
11. John Brown
12. Souls in Infinite Culture
13. Currents of Time
14. Grounding Poetry
15. Face of the River
Closing Thoughts
Closing Images, Reveries, Prayers
Closing Passions
Chronology, Works Cited, Credits

New Look—Feedback Welcome!

Dear All—

As you’ve no doubt noticed, OLP&Lit online is experimenting with a new look. My hope is that the thicker fonts and higher contrast throughout will make the site that much more readable. Also, this design should translate across devices slightly better than the previous one did. I trust you’ll let me know if I’m wrong on either count.

FYI: The patron goldfinch you find at the top of the page was painted by Angela Moulton. You can tell it’s a goldfinch by the shape of its head. (!)

Do let me know what you think (about this or anything else site related).



NDPR: Peter Dula Reviews Espen Dahl’s Recent Book

Peter Dula recently reviewed Espen Dahl’s Stanley Cavell, Religion, and Continental Philosophy for NDPR. The review begins:

For a long time, Stanley Cavell was the least read of his generation of American philosophical greats. Richard Rorty, Donald Davidson, John Rawls, Hilary Putnam, Arthur Danto and Thomas Kuhn all became famous (as famous as philosophers can be) while Cavell remained relatively obscure for most of his career. That has changed decisively since the early 2000s. In the last five years alone, almost 10 monographs have appeared on his work. Most of these are by literature professors, almost none, sadly, are by philosophers, and a few are by theologians and scholars of religion. The newest addition to the latter is Espen Dahl’s impressive book, one that lives up to every aspect of its title. Dahl has a comprehensive grasp on Cavell’s thought, is clearly a gifted theologian, and manages to place Cavell in conversation with continental thought as productively as anyone before him. Moreover, he does so in prose that is a model of clarity and brevity. Just see his overview of Cavell’s “ordinary” (7-13), which manages to be a frankly stunning six page summary of Cavell’s work as a whole.

The theologian drawn to Cavell has to first get past those early readings that understood Cavell as a secular and atheist philosopher, whether, like Richard Eldridge, they approve of his atheism or, like Judith Tonning and the early Stephen Mulhall, they disapprove. That reading flattens the complexity and ambivalence of Cavell’s many remarks on religion. Dahl follows an alternative line of thought, which argues for Cavell’s openness to religious and theological concerns. [Click here to continue reading]

Ethics of Alterity, Confrontation and Responsibility in 19th- to 21st-Century British Literature – new volume edited by Christine Reynier and Jean-Michel Ganteau

Christine Reynier and Jean-Michel Ganteau (University Paul Valéry – Montpellier III) have edited over the last few years  a number of wonderful volumes of essays that might be of interest to scholars working at the intersection of literature, philosophy, and the arts: Impersonality and Emotion in Twentieth-Century British Literature (PULM, 2005), Impersonality and Emotion in Twentieth-Century British Arts (PULM, 2007), Autonomy and Commitment in Twentieth-Century British Literature (PULM, 2010), and Autonomy and Commitment in Twentieth-Century British Arts (PULM, 2012). The last in this series was published last year, also by Presses Universitaires de la Méditerranée:

“Over the last few decades, in the wake of the ‘Ethical Turn’, contemporary literature has been examined through the prism of the ethics of alterity. Yet, this may not be consis­tently the case with Victorian and Modernist literature, since relatively few of the authors of those periods have elicited such critical and ­theoretical scrutiny.

The articles in this volume set off to re-read Victorian and Modernist literature in the light of the ethics of alterity and investigate whether the post-Auschwitz, contemporary period breaks away from or favours lines of continuity with the productions of the earlier era. It also strives to address works which do not belong to the canon, focusing alternately on great authors and less known artists, on what has been termed ‘minor’ texts or genres that are less visible than the novel. Approaching literature by examining the relations between ethics and aesthetics, even while adopting an ethical approach, helps the authors in this volume contribute to revising the contemporary, Modernist and Victorian canon in English Literature.”

For the table of contents, please visit the publisher’s page.


New Book: Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity by Martin Shuster

Congratulations to Martin Shuster! His first book, Autonomy After Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity is hot off the University of Chicago Press.


A bit about the book (this from the publisher’s page):

Ever since Kant and Hegel, the notion of autonomy—the idea that we are beholden to no law except one we impose upon ourselves—has been considered the truest philosophical expression of human freedom. But could our commitment to autonomy, as Theodor Adorno asked, be related to the extreme evils that we have witnessed in modernity? In Autonomy after Auschwitz, Martin Shuster explores this difficult question with astonishing theoretical acumen, examining the precise ways autonomy can lead us down a path of evil and how it might be prevented from doing so.

Shuster uncovers dangers in the notion of autonomy as it was originally conceived by Kant. Putting Adorno into dialogue with a range of European philosophers, notably Kant, Hegel, Horkheimer, and Habermas—as well as with a variety of contemporary Anglo-American thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, and Robert Pippin—he illuminates Adorno’s important revisions to this fraught concept and how his different understanding of autonomous agency, fully articulated, might open up new and positive social and political possibilities. Altogether,Autonomy after Auschwitz is a meditation on modern evil and human agency, one that demonstrates the tremendous ethical stakes at the heart of philosophy.