Poetic critique—is that not an oxymoron? Do these two forms of behavior—the poetic and the critical—not pull in different, even opposite, directions? For many scholars working in the humanities today, they largely do, but that has not always been so. Friedrich Schlegel, for one, believed that critique worthy of its name must be poetic. Only then does it stand a chance of responding adequately to the work of art. It is an audacious notion of critique, one that has inspired thinkers such as Walter Benjamin. Yet it is also a notion that has failed to gain a firm foothold in literary studies as it transformed itself into an academic discipline.
The three-day conference from June 27-29, organized by Michel Chaouli from IU's Department of Germanic Studies and Jutta Müller-Tamm from Freie Universität Berlin, seeks to put new life into the idea of poetic critique, but also to ask about its limits and limitations. It invites scholars in the humanities to reflect on the promises and pitfalls of