“Why True Criticism Is Poetic Criticism”

HSS Occasional Seminar
Prof. Michel Chaouli
Date and Time: 
Mon, 17/02/2020 - 11:00am to 11:30am
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
HSS Committee Room (MS610)


In this talk, I seek to develop a mode of criticism that is poetic, one not beholden to critique nor geared towards judgment. What are the main features of poetic criticism? First, a true encounter with literature—with any art—occurs from a place of vulnerability. Second, the meaning of a text reveals itself only when the reader undergoes a change. Third, the change is one in which personal characteristics are surpassed, lending voice to what is impersonal in the self. And fourth, the index of this impersonal voice is the urgency with which it speaks the truth. The truth of the humanities is therefore not propositional, not critical, not historical, but above all poetic.


Michel Chaouli teaches literature, aesthetics, and critical theory at Indiana University, where he is Professor of German and director of the Center for Theoretical Inquiry in the Humanities. At the Free University in Berlin he directs the “Philological Laboratory,” a multi-year research project. His most recent book is Thinking With Kant’s Critique of Judgment (Harvard UP, 2017). His next book is entitled Intimacy, Intensity, Opacity: Dimensions of Poetic Criticism.