Literary Interventions in Justice: A Symposium

Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 58 (2):160-78 (2021)
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The purpose of this symposium is to explore the ways in which literature, broadly construed to include poetry and narrative in a variety of modes of representation, can change the world by providing interventions in justice. Our approach foregrounds the relationship between the activity demanded by some individual literary works and some categories of literary work on the one hand and the way in which those works can make a tangible difference to social reality on the other. We consider three types of active literary engagement: doing philosophy, ideological critique, and necessary rather than contingent performance. Kate Kirkpatrick opens with Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (2013), reading the narrator as not only a critic of colonial and postcolonial discourse but also a literary exemplar of the search for justice when it is difficult to know to what level of explanation to attribute its absence. Rafe McGregor demonstrates how the final season of Prime Video’s The Man in the High Castle (2015–19) makes a radical break from the previous three, exposing the misanthropy at the core of right-wing populism and calling for a fundamentally democratic response from the left. Finally, Karen Simecek argues that poetry in performance has a potentially reparative function for the ethically lonely – the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the persecuted – in society.

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Author Profiles

Karen Simecek
University of Warwick
Kate Kirkpatrick
University of Oxford
Rafe McGregor
Edge Hill University

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References found in this work

Against ethical criticism.Richard A. Posner - 1997 - Philosophy and Literature 21 (1):1-27.
Beyond Narrative: Poetry, Emotion and the Perspectival View.Karen Simecek - 2015 - British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (4):497-513.

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