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Questions and Question Marks: World Literature, Epistemological Racism, and the Decolonial Moment

Professor Michael Stern, U of O
Europe According to Luxembourg 2013
Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 3:30pm
CMU 226

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil addresses “the will to truth” by posing a series of questions about the value of this drive. Before Nietzsche concludes, he wonders whether this concern for clarity has seduced thinkers into “a rendezvous of questions and question marks.” Nietzsche argues that the desire for knowledge has led to a dead end, where the question itself has been masked by its form. The implications of this thought for a conception of “World Literature” can be juxtaposed to an observation made by Ramon Grosfoguel, who argues that the structure of knowledge in what he calls the “Westernized University” is governed by an epistemological racism that excludes most of the world’s thought. This presentation offers a way out of the Western-dominated notion of World Literature. Thinkers and artists under consideration include Jorge Luis Borges, Ann Carson, Knut Hamsun, Søren Kierkegaard, Achille Mbembe, John Sallis, Wole Solyinka, and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.

 Michael Stern teaches in the German and Scandinavian Department at the University of Oregon. His work explores how people codify and assign value to experiences through stories. Currently, he is writing a monograph called The Singing Socrates and dabbling in two related projects: Conversations with African Philosophers and a study of the literature of contemporary African communities in diaspora.

Co-Sponsored by Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media

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