As part of the series Rethinking the Human Sciences, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society presents:
The Harvest of Old Times: Mimesis, Sovereignty, and The Poetics of Relation
A talk by INTERACT Postdoctoral Fellow Michael R. Griffiths.
Much has been made in postcolonial criticism of the question of writing in the language of the colonizer. This logic, Souleymane Bachir Diagne traces to the “kiss of death” given by Sartre to theNégritude movement at its emergence—a totalizing embrace that lay heavy over the efforts of Leopold Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire in their attempts to redefine the poetics and philosophy of this movement in the long history that followed. The question which animates the genealogy traced in this essay begins is as follows: how might Édouard Glissant’s poetics of relation lead us to reevaluate the problem of writing in the language of the colonizer? How might Glissant further lead us to reimagine poetic novelty in relation to both the poetics of relation in Caribbean/Antillean poets and in the founding assumptions of European modernism? Passing through and politicizing the genealogy of mimesis, poetic novelty, and political sovereignty from Kant to Bataille, via T. S. Eliot, and Carl Schmitt, this lecture emphasizes the import of Glissant in reevaluating the logic of tradition, decision, and individual talent for a globalizing era.