e-flux lectures: Nathan K. Hensley, "A Poetics of Action: Althusser, Brontë, Rossetti"

At a moment when the capacity for consequential individual action feels diminished—diffused into ethers of climatalogical systems or tangled in webs of attenuation, restriction, and foreclosure by state and corporate apparatuses—the problem of agency arises once again. This talk revives two seemingly superseded critical traditions (twentieth-century ideology theory and nineteenth-century feminist poetics) and finds there models for thinking action in the present. Could attention to these theories of entangled capacity help rescue the category of action from liberal-humanist clichés of heroism and from their opposite, the melancholic determinism now fashionable among critics of the Anthropocene?

Nathan K. Hensley teaches English at Georgetown University, where he works on Victorian literature, ecological thinking, and the cultural forms of contemporary globalization. He is the author of Forms of Empire: The Poetics of Victorian Sovereignty (Oxford, 2016) and co-editor of Ecological Form: System and Aesthetics in the Age of Empire (Fordham, forthcoming). His writing has appeared in publications including Victorian StudiesNovel: A Forum on FictionStanford ArcadeThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and e-flux journal.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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