Literary critic Eagleton to speak on "The Death of Criticism?"

Author: Arts and Letters

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The English literary critic Terry Eagleton will give a lecture, “The Death of Criticism?” at 4p.m. Friday (Jan. 25) in the Hesburgh Center auditorium.

Eagleton, a professor of cultural theory at the University of Manchester, began his career as a scholar of Victorian literature and culture and now specializes in literary and cultural theory and the English-language literature and culture of Ireland.

A prolific writer within and without the academic world, Eagleton is the author of numerous books, including, most recently, “How To Read A Poem” and “The Meaning of Life.”

Eagleton is an enthusiastic controversialist who is often at the center of the literary quarrels which so frequently roil the British press. His recent and widely read review of “The God Delusion,” the atheistic treatise by Richard Dawkins, begins with this barb: “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”

Eagleton is no gentler on the subject of his own academic specialty, writing in his landmark 2003 book “After Theory,” that “cultural theory as we have it promises to grapple with some fundamental problems, but on the whole fails to deliver. It has been shamefaced about morality and metaphysics, embarrassed about love, biology, religion and revolution, largely silent about evil, reticent about death and suffering, dogmatic about essences, universals and foundations, and superficial about truth, objectivity and disinterestedness. This, on any estimate, is rather a large slice of human existence to fall down on. It is also rather an awkward moment in history to find oneself with little or nothing to say about such fundamental questions.”

The lecture is sponsored by Notre Dame’s PhD in Literature Program and Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

*Contact: * Sean O’Brien, program coordinator at the Keough Naughton Institute, at 574-631-6250 or .

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on January 22, 2008.