HRC Seminar: Ian Balfour (York U) on Inversion and Discourse on the Sublime

Inversion: On Some Poetics and Politics in the Discourse of the Sublime

Professor Ian Balfour, York University

HRC Conference Room, A.D. Hope Building, ANU. Tuesday 6 December 2016, 4.15 – 5.30pm.

This talk looks into how language works in the discourse of the sublime, zeroing on the figure of inversion from Longinus to Milton’s Paradise Lost (read through Edmund Burke) to Friedrich Hölderlin and beyond.  Inversion emerges as a disruptive figure of speech poised between nature and culture and for that reason as a site of the political and even most particularly as a “figure of revolution,” as one rhetorician calls it.

Ian Balfour is Professor of English at York University. He is the author of books on The Rhetoric of Romantic Prophecy and on Northrop Frye. He edited with the filmmaker Atom Egoyan Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film and with Eduardo Cadava a double-issue of South Atlantic Quarterly on human rights, and edited an SAQ issue on Late Derrida. He was a co-translator of Benjamin’s dissertation and recently co-curated an exhibition at Tate Britain on William Hazlitt’s art criticism. He’s published on a range of topics in popular and unpopular culture, including recent essays on James Baldwin’s film criticism, Austen’s Emma and its film adaptations, Hölderlin’s theory of tragedy, and on cover songs. He has taught at Cornell as the M. H. Abrams Distinguished Visiting Professor of English and as well as at Williams College, Rice, and the Goether University in Frankfurt, among others. He is currently finishing a book on the sublime.


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