Paul de Man may have declared formalist criticism a dead-end in the 1950s, but it took until the deconstructive the 1970s for formalism finally die. For de Man, William Empson’s study of ambiguity gave the lie to I.A. Richards’s claims that literature could transmit experience. Deconstruction further insisted that the sliding of the signifier made the possibility of shared experience through literature difficult if not impossible.
Yet form and experience are back with new formalism and affect studies. Are we in a zombie dead-end or have we surpassed the problem of mediation and its ambiguities? In this panel, we will discuss how contemporary literary studies may grapple with form, affect, and the problem of shared textual experience. Of particular interest are the ways in which work in feminist, gender studies, queer, or critical race scholarship may inform or alter this conversation.
Please submit abstracts to https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/login.