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The Claims of Literature


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About the Author

Emily Sun is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. She is editor, with Ulrich Baer and Eyal Peretz, of The Claims of Literature: A Shoshana Felman Reader (Fordham, 2007). EYAL PERETZ is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. He is the author of Literature, Disaster, and the Enigma of Power: A Reading of `Moby-Dick.' Ulrich Baer is Vice Provost for Arts, Humanities and Diversity and Professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. He is editor and translator of Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters of Life, editor of 110 Stories: New York Writes after September 11, and author of several books on poetry and photography. His most recent book is Beggar's Chicken: Stories from Shanghai.


"Shoshana Felman ranks as one of the most important and most influential thinkers of
recent times. The essays selected for the reader are all widely viewed as "classics" and
represent a coherent, well-chosen and thoughtful selection. All bear witness to the clarity
of Felman's prose and her dedication to rigorous demonstration and lucid argumentation.
Indeed, Felman's work derives its pathbreaking insights though its dedication to the
clear expression of ideas and experiences that challenge the human capacity for clear
expression. By engaging with this essential human paradox (the need to communicate
that which defies communication), Felman's work addresses the most important questions
of human experience and encourages her readers to open themselves up to new and
exciting ways of thinking and reading."

-- -Elissa Marder * Emory University *
The time is ripe for critical theory's re-encounter with Shoshana Felman's singularly creative thinking and reading. Felman's insistence on the implications of theory for literary and cultural reading over its mere "applications" remains a fundamental imperative that continues to press us today to rethink our assumptions and practices. This splendid collection brings together much of her most important work, as well as illuminating responses by Judith Butler, Stanley Cavell, and Julia Kristeva, among others. -- -Kenneth Reinhard * University of California, Los Angeles *

The Claims of Literature gathers some of the true "specimen" texts of the last three decades, texts from which proceeded several of the major theoretical breakthroughs of our era. That each essay retains its full power
to re-excite thought is testament to Felman's spectacular ability to locate those moments when an argument begins to fend or feed off its own foreignness. To read-or reread-these brilliant essays is to experience
that thrilling brush with the unknown that first led Felman to reconceive the relations between writing and madness; the body and speech; femininity and sexual difference; law and justice; trauma and witnessing.

-- -Joan Copjec * author of Imagine There's No Woman or Director of the Center for the study of Psychoanalysis and Culture at University at Buffalo *

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