2. Atrocity, time, and the novel

We live in a world with a long history of atrocity — from the colonization of the Americas to the Japanese massacre at Nanking. Our guest Bruce Robbins is curious about how these past atrocities show up in novels. In our conversation today, he focuses on how the novel plays with time. By paying attention to these shifting timelines, Bruce suggests that readers can begin to imagine a more just future.

Works mentioned

– Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

– Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Further reading

Kwame Anthony Appiah talk on Al Jazeera – On Cosmopolitanism

Bruce Robbins in n+1 – The Logic of the Beneficiary

Bruce Robbins talk at the University of Pittsburgh – The Representation of Atrocity


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  2. Roy Skodnick

    As an unfortunate graduate student in the 60s these talks are balms for wounds inflicted long ago – when such questions were posed from in high but little engagement with students’ active moral presence was allowed – Bruce Robbins would have been a welcome presence – he is asking the question we have lived with since the 60s from Conrad to now – the horror! Prolepsis and back
    To come forward into the present as Charles Olson put it – Quequeg’s harpoon – thank you D.H. Lawrence
    Moby Dick our Iliad ! How about a program of institutional archeology ? How the dead weight of past practice weighs on the heads of and heart of old students – in sight of the present crisis of work and vocation in the Humanities?

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