Alexandria Digital Research Library

From Tragedy to Testimony : Bare Life and the Hermeneutics of Suffering

Author:
Kawar, Kelly M.
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. English
Degree Supervisor:
Carl Gutierrez-Jones
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
Publisher:
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
2016
Issued Date:
2016
Topics:
Ethics, Philosophy, and Literature
Keywords:
Suffering
Ethics
Giorgio Agamben
Testimony
Slave Narratives
Bare Life
Genres:
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Dissertation:
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016
Description:

My dissertation explores efforts within contemporary theory to think beyond the exclusionary logic of the humanist paradigm---namely, those expressions at the intersection of biopolitics and theories of life (Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze), Animal Studies (Cary Wolfe), ethics (Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida), and aesthetics (Jacques Ranciere) which, in the turn away from logos and toward its myriad 'others,' invoke a network of conceptual correlates for what is initially, if not ultimately, understood as suffering. Situating this 'post-humanist' critique within the greater philosophical project to overcome the problem of suffering by way of suffering itself, I present Agamben's conception of 'bare life,' the principal figure of suffering in modernity, as a hermeneutic within a genealogy of techniques, from tragedy to testimony, that aims to transpose suffering into the promise of political and ontological freedom. This 'promise' which Agamben glimpses in the figure of 'bare life' and articulates in profound re-conceptions of subjectivity, freedom, power, and political agency, offers new insight into the particular authority and disciplinary capacities of literary productions composed from or about this form of subjectivity. Thus, in my readings of the American slave narrative (Frederick Douglass), as well as Holocaust (Elie Wiesel), Apartheid and animal rights literature (J.M. Coetzee) as 'narratives of bare life,' I seek to illuminate their production and reception as the outcomes of a biopolitical logic. This approach works to counter the limitations and pitfalls of the human rights narrative in which these texts have typically been received---a narrative whose teleological notion of the human forecloses the possibility of an ethics which takes into account the human potential for its own inhumanity.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (157 pages)
Format:
Text
Collection(s):
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
ARK:
ark:/48907/f3r2116s
ISBN:
9781339671475
Catalog System Number:
990046534430203776
Rights:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Kelly Kawar
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