Lead Article: “Reading Responsibly between Martha Nussbaum and Emmanuel Levinas: Towards a Textual Ethics for the Twenty-First Century”

The lead article commissioned for a special issue of Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory on ‘Cultivating Humanity: The Literary and Moral Thought of Martha Nussbuam’, Dr Wrighton’s essay takes a major step towards the philosophy and critical practice of a textual ethics for the twenty-first century.

John Wrighton and Martha Nussbaum at University College London, June 2014

John Wrighton and Martha Nussbaum at University College London, June 2014

 

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his article explores the intersection of literature and philosophy in order to present a reworked textual ethics for the twenty-first century. Tracing over the last thirty years a remarkable philosophical engagement with the ethical imperative of literary criticism, the “turn to ethics” it is argued has largely settled into two competing critical camps: a neo-Aristotelian, narrative ethics on the one hand, and an other-oriented, deconstructive ethics on the other.

By bringing into productive tension for the first time the major works of two of the most significant ethical philosophers, Martha Nussbaum and Emmanuel Levinas (representing the “Analytic” and “Continental” forms of knowledge respectively), this study reveals in their mutual engagement of the textual encounter “language as a way of touching a human being,” and thereby proposes an ethical criticism open to new forms of community and social possibility.

 

 

KEYWORDS:
Ethics
Martha Nussbaum
Emmanuel Levinas
Philosophy
Critical Theory
Poststructuralism

Journal: Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory 
Publisher: Penn State University Press
ILS website

 

BIO-SKETCH OF AUTHOR:

DR JOHN WRIGHTON is Principal Lecturer in English Literature and Head of Research in the School of Humanities at the University of Brighton. With a PhD in English from Aberystwyth University in 2008, he is the author of scholarly articles devoted to literary ethics, ecocriticism, Dada, avant-garde, and modernist poetry. He is author of Ethics and Politics in Modern American Poetry (Routledge, 2010).