Stanley Cavell and the Claim of Literature
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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First and foremost, let me begin by thanking everyone at the Johns Hopkins University Press, in par tic u lar Matt McAdam for taking an interest in this It is equally important to thank my colleagues and my students at the Uni-versity of Huddersfi eld. The full extent of my gratitude to them is, in fact, easily quantifi ed: they a? orded me the priceless opportunity of a semester of sabbati-...
List of Abbreviated Titles
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INTRODUCTION: Approaching the Unapproachable
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Stanley Cavell is among the most infl uential and signifi cant of contemporary phi los o phers. His works have achieved a level of eclecticism unparalleled in Anglo- American thought. Not only does Cavell?s philosophy succeed in accom-modating the ?ordinary language? tradition of J. L. Austin and Ludwig Witt-genstein with the ?continental? tradition from Kant to Derrida and the Ameri-...
1 Making Sense(s) of Walden
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Just a few pages ago I promised to deliver a book that would discuss Stanley Cavell?s readings of literary texts and that might even venture to o? er the oc-casional Cavellian reading of its own. Given a book of this nature, and espe-cially one entitled Stanley Cavell and the Claim of Literature, there would be good grounds for a reader to expect me to begin by setting out what it is that makes ...
2 The Avoidance of Shakespeare
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William Shakespeare occupies a unique position in the writings of Stanley Cavell. No other writer of what we would readily identify as literature has pre-occupied him to anything like the extent Shakespeare has.1 Both his master-pieces Must We Mean What We Say? and The Claim of Reason conclude with an essay on Shakespearean tragedy, and this tradition has been continued in more ...
3 From the Sublime to the Ordinary: Stanley Cavell’s Beckett
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...?Beckett shrugs his shoulders at the possibility of philosophy today.? So claims Theodor Adorno in his rather abortive ?Versuch, das Endspiel zu verstehen.?1 And yet, perhaps because of this very act of shoulder shrugging, the works of Samuel Beckett seem to have fi red the imaginations of a great many phi los o-phers. Discussions of Beckett feature prominently in the writings of such think-...
4 How to Do Things with Wordsworth
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William Wordsworth and his poems crop up repeatedly in various discus-sions that span the breadth of Cavell?s career, from the early essays in Must We Mean What We Say?, through discussions of romanticism in The Claim of Rea-son and other texts of the 1980s, and on into the later work. Cavell?s discus-sions of Wordsworth are often brief yet complex; he claims he is ?reading ...
5 What Did Cavell Want of Poe?
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In a lecture given at Stanford some years ago, Stanley Cavell added his name to the list of thinkers who have endeavored to read Poe philosophically, an im-pressive list that already included Derrida, Lacan, and Barbara Johnson.1 Yet Cavell?s engagement with Poe does not amount to a ?reading? in any straight-forward, positivistic sense of the term. Focusing largely on one of Poe?s lesser- ...
6 “Politics as Opposed to What?”: Social Contract and Marriage Contract in A Doll’s House
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Let us begin this chapter from the same starting point as Cavell himself, who begins his longest discussion of A Doll?s House with the obvious question, ?Why Ibsen?? (CoW, p. 247). Unlike the questions Cavell asks of Poe?s ?The Imp of the Perverse,? explored in the previous chapter, and unlike some of his questions that will come up later in this one, the question ?Why Ibsen?? gets a prompt and ...
7 Tragedy’s Tragedies: Between the Skeptical and the Ethical
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Allow me to begin this chapter by asking the reader to visualize a brief yet dis-turbing scene. Assuming that you are sitting down while reading this, I ask you to imagine, if you will, that about a dozen paces from your seat you see a young couple? an attractive young woman and a well- built young man. They appear to be in love, they are tender enough with each other, and they are engaged in ...
CONCLUSION: Just an Ordinary American Tragedy
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By way of a conclusion, I turn now to an attempt at a Cavellian reading of a mod-ern classic, Arthur Miller?s Death of a Salesman. This may seem a strange move, given that Cavell himself has never written on Miller?s work, but in making it I hope to demonstrate, among other things, that Cavell?s philosophical ap-proaches to literature have a wider degree of applicability than just to the texts ...
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013