Sandra Macpherson, "A Little Formalism"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 12:00pm
Heyman Center common room

Sandra Macpherson, Associate Professor of English at Ohio State and, this semester, Class of 1932 Humanities Council Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Department of English at Princeton will give a talk titled "A Little Formalism" on Tuesday, October 8, 12-2 PM in the Heyman Center common room.  The event is cosponsored by the department and the Heyman Center. (more...)

Macpherson is the author of Harm's Way: Tragic Responsibility and the Novel Form (Hopkins UP, 2010), and is completing a new book called The Shape of Form. This talk is a prolegomena to that project, which asks: what do literary historians mean by "form"? Why has formalism been rehabilitated in recent years by suturing it to history or phenomenology, thus making form a question for-and about-human beings?  What would happen if our formalism acknowledged that all matter has form? What would happen if our materialism acknowledged that form determines matter? If we can only tolerate a formalism divorced from teleology and abstraction, then is the new formalism truly formalist? The answer, Macpherson argues, is no.