Fetish and Fiction: Religion, Literature, and the Political

A Religion, Culture, and Politics Workshop

February 15, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: New North Room 107 (Theology Department Conference Room) Map

Over a span of 30 years, twentieth-century French philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida held a conversation across texts. Sharing a Jewish heritage and a background in phenomenology, both came to situate their work at the margins of philosophy, articulating this placement through religion and literature. Chronicling the interactions between these thinkers in her book Broken Tablets: Levinas, Derrida, and the Literary Afterlife of Religion (2016), Sarah Hammerschlag argues that the stakes in their respective positions were not only philosophical, but also political.

At this Religion, Culture, and Politics Workshop Hammerschlag, an associate professor of religion and literature, philosophy of religions, and the history of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School, presented a paper that takes as its starting point the writings of Derrida and Sarah Kofman on the themes of the fetish and fiction and from there developed some preliminary theses on the relationship of literature to political theology.

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