LITE-4103 Literary Subject Hermeneutics

The practice of reading and writing is closely linked to a series of assumptions regarding the subject. Starting in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the subject became a central individual, the origin or motivations, acts and discourse. This notion of the subject has come to a crisis, in the theory as well as the literature of the 20th Century. The identity of the subject with itself has been questioned, in theoretic as well as psychoanalytical texts (Freud, Lacan), literary texts and certain autobiographical writing (Borges, Barthes). In addition, the subject has been brought off center as regards the laws of its desire, those of language that enable it to exist, those of power that make it possible. This forces use to rethink our reading practice. After the author’s death, the reading-writing duo cannot be understood as a dichotomy: Active-passive, codify-decode. The subject crisis also affects the way characters are constructed and read: their central role as agents, subjects that cause actions and discourse becomes blurred. Their subjectivity is not reflected in the writing: It takes place within and it is at the mercy of its games. This course analyzes how a series of theoretic and literary texts from the 20th century question the notion of the subject as an individual and how this crisis challenges three core notions for literary studies: the character, the author, the reader.