In this episode, I interview Cassandra Falke, professor of English Literature ad UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, about her book The Phenomenology of Love and Reading (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016). In the text, Falke situates herself within the current revival of the interest in ethics in literary criticism, which coincides with a rise in neuroscientific discoveries about cognition and emotion that similarly have been incorporated into literary studies. Aware of these recent developments, Falke argues that literary study must ground itself philosophically—rather than just scientifically—in order to speak convincingly about literature’s relationship(s) to our ethical lives. To do this, The Phenomenology of Love and Reading recasts French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion’s articulations of a phenomenology of love onto the event of reading.
Phenomenology of Love and Reading
accepts Jean-Luc Marion's argument that love matters for who we are
more than anything—more than cognition and more than being itself.
Falke shows through deft readings of both philosophical and literary
texts, as well as ruminations on the experience of reading, how the
act of reading can strengthen our capacity to love by giving us
practice in love´s habits—attention, empathy, and a willingness to
be overwhelmed. Confounding our expectations, literature equips us
for the confounding events of love, which, Falke suggests, are not
rare and fleeting, but rather constitute the most meaningful and
durable part of our everyday life.
Edelen is a Ph.D. student in English at Duke University. He focuses
on modernism and the relationship(s) between language, philosophy,
and literature. You can find him on Twitter
or send him an email.
Britt Edelen is a Ph.D. student in English at Duke University. He focuses on modernism and the relationship(s) between language, philosophy, and literature. You can find him on Twitter or send him an email.