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The Function of Agon at the Present Time

The Function of Agon at the Present Time PeTer h i Tch cock e F Th unction of Agon at the Present Time 1 Our antagonist is our helper. Edmund Burke In this essay I want to take up the important principle of agon in relation to how we conceptualize world literature and articulate a literary criticism adequate to it. I am particularly concerned to recong fi ure the appropriateness of scale to such endeavor in part because scale can reveal the parameters of world literature at its most agonistic. Yet I also want to frame such discussion with a reconsideration of the function of criticism itself whose own logics of engagement are clearly at stake in world literature’s reemergence. This is not in the service of reinventing a nineteenth- century argument for a twenty- fi rst century practice but as a way to measure the forms of crisis that give to criticism its urgency and possibilities. When Matthew Arnold uses the above quote from Burke as an epigraph to Essays in Criti- cism (of which “e F Th unction of Criticism at the Present Time” is a part) he marks the value of disputation to criticism’s renewal (a familiar strategy to be sure, but not one http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Function of Agon at the Present Time

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

PeTer h i Tch cock e F Th unction of Agon at the Present Time 1 Our antagonist is our helper. Edmund Burke In this essay I want to take up the important principle of agon in relation to how we conceptualize world literature and articulate a literary criticism adequate to it. I am particularly concerned to recong fi ure the appropriateness of scale to such endeavor in part because scale can reveal the parameters of world literature at its most agonistic. Yet I also want to frame such discussion with a reconsideration of the function of criticism itself whose own logics of engagement are clearly at stake in world literature’s reemergence. This is not in the service of reinventing a nineteenth- century argument for a twenty- fi rst century practice but as a way to measure the forms of crisis that give to criticism its urgency and possibilities. When Matthew Arnold uses the above quote from Burke as an epigraph to Essays in Criti- cism (of which “e F Th unction of Criticism at the Present Time” is a part) he marks the value of disputation to criticism’s renewal (a familiar strategy to be sure, but not one

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 12, 2013

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