Failure is Our Greatest Option: The Question of Reading and the Politics of Literature

The Leslie Center for the Humanities presents the interdisciplinary conference, "Failure Is Our Only Option: The Question of Reading and the Politics of Literature", Tuesday, May 10 and Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

Event Itinerary

To register for any of the conference events below please write to the Leslie Center for the Humanities at


Tuesday, May 10: Hopkins Center Faculty Lounge (205 Hopkins)

3:00-3:30 PM

Opening Remarks: Robert St.Clair (Dartmouth College), "…And…now? On Reading (Flaubert) in the Dark"

3:30-6:00 PM

Reading Poetry: Theories, Figures, Complications

  • Jonathan Strauss (Miami University), "Is a Poem ever Contemporary?"
  • Victoria Zurita (Stanford University), "Revolutionary Individuals, Natural and Accursed Reading: José Martí and Arthur Rimbaud as Global Modernists"
  • Seth Whidden (Oxford University), "Qui Parle? On Other Voices in the Lyric"
  • Elissa Marder (Emory University), "Baudelaire's Black Notebooks"

Moderator: Robert St.Clair


Wednesday, May 11: Hopkins Center Faculty Lounge (205 Hopkins)

9:00-11:30 AM

Reading Material: Spaces, Archives, Histories, Embodiments

  • Pratima Prasad (University of Massachusetts, Boston), "Reading Skeptically: Notes from the Indian Ocean"
  • François Proulx (University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana), "Between Private and Public: Marcel Proust Reading and Writing, 1892-1896"
  • Liesl Yamaguchi (Boston College), "Reading Synesthesia"
  • Mathieu Roger-Lacan (Université Paris Cité, EHSS), "Des corps sans histoire? On the Problematic Link between Historical Violence and Sexual Violence in the Nineteenth-Century Novel"

Moderator: Patrick Bray

2:00-4:00 PM

The Reader's Part/Partages du lecteur

  • Jacques-David Ebguy (Université Paris Cité), "Text's not Dead! Reading the Novel with(out) Rancière"
  • Göran Blix (Princeton University), "Balzac/Rancière: On l'égalité de tous les sujets"
  • Jessica Tanner (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), "Text Work: On Reading (un)Well"
4:30-6:00 PM

Roundtable: Spaces, Questions, Ways of Reading

  • Nirvana Tanoukhi, Dartmouth College, Department of English
  • Antonio Gomez, Dartmouth College, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • yasser elhariry, Dartmouth College, Department of French and Italian
  • Alessandra Aloisi, Oxford University
  • Patrick Bray, University College London

Moderator: Robert St.Clair

6:15-7:30 PM

Keynote: Anne-Emmanuelle Berger (Université de Paris VIII/ Cornell University), Reading and its Discontents


We wish to thank the following entities, departments, and colleagues for their generous support in making this conference possible: The Leslie Center for the Humanities, The Department of French and Italian, the Guthrie Fund, Rebecca Biron (Director, the Leslie Center for the Humanities and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Dartmouth College), David Laguardia (Chair of French and Italian, Dartmouth College), Associate Dean Samuel Levy, and, last but by no means least, Mary Fletcher and Erin Bennett.