Eric Hayot presents “What Happens to Literature If Persons Are Artworks?”

Eric Hayot, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University, will present a talk at UC Berkeley entitled “What Happens to Literature if Persons are Artworks?” The event will take place on Thursday, February 12 at 4:00pm in the Maude Fife Room (Wheeler Hall, 3rd floor).

Hayot for blog

The premise of the talk is that the ethics of reading that dominates the human sciences is borrowed essentially wholesale from a Romantic relation to the humanistic object of study, one of whose origins can be found in Kant. Hayot argues that this ethics is neither practically nor philosophically viable, and so he proposes an alternative to it that also, along the way, would produce a new way of thinking about the relationship between humans, artworks, and the market.

The first decade of Hayot’s career focused on what he describes as “the ways in which China (and a variety of correlates each working to undermine the geographic, cultural, or political singularity of the word “China”) have affected the intellectual, literary, and cultural history of the West (similarly undermined).” His “Chinese Bodies, Chinese Futures” is available in Representations 99 (Summer 2007).