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Editor's Column: Antagonistically Speaking

Editor's Column: Antagonistically Speaking eDi To r’ S c o lum N Antagonistically Speaking i Th s issue focuses on antagonisms. The topic’s relevance for comparative literature seems at once evident and elusive. This volume asks: How might one conceive of antagonism today? Why are certain forms of antagonism readily made visible while others remain hidden—or simply disavowed (Žižek 23)? How does the field of lit- erary studies manage its own antagonism(s)? Is antagonism—antagonistic rivalry between critics—a hindrance to the faithful work of interpretation? Or is it better understood as, or in terms of, the e fi ld’s engine of change (cf. Fish 0)? 51 I am re- minded here of Michel Foucault’s understanding of power: At the very heart of the power relationship, and constantly provoking it, are the recalcitrance of the will and the intransigence of freedom. Rather than speaking of an essential freedom, it would be better to speak of an “agonism”—of a re- lationship which is at the same time reciprocal incitation and struggle; less of a face- to-f ace confrontation which paralyzes both sides than a permanent provo- cation. (221–22) To conceive of the scene of reading as agonistic is to foreground its dialogical force, to highlight interpretation http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Editor's Column: Antagonistically Speaking

The Comparatist , Volume 37 – May 12, 2013

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

eDi To r’ S c o lum N Antagonistically Speaking i Th s issue focuses on antagonisms. The topic’s relevance for comparative literature seems at once evident and elusive. This volume asks: How might one conceive of antagonism today? Why are certain forms of antagonism readily made visible while others remain hidden—or simply disavowed (Žižek 23)? How does the field of lit- erary studies manage its own antagonism(s)? Is antagonism—antagonistic rivalry between critics—a hindrance to the faithful work of interpretation? Or is it better understood as, or in terms of, the e fi ld’s engine of change (cf. Fish 0)? 51 I am re- minded here of Michel Foucault’s understanding of power: At the very heart of the power relationship, and constantly provoking it, are the recalcitrance of the will and the intransigence of freedom. Rather than speaking of an essential freedom, it would be better to speak of an “agonism”—of a re- lationship which is at the same time reciprocal incitation and struggle; less of a face- to-f ace confrontation which paralyzes both sides than a permanent provo- cation. (221–22) To conceive of the scene of reading as agonistic is to foreground its dialogical force, to highlight interpretation

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 12, 2013

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