MIMA Seminar

MIMA (Research Network on Minority-Majority Relations) seminar with Idit Alphandary, short-term visiting scholar at ToRS

Forgiveness, Resentment, and the Stakes of Contemporary Jews and Germans

Forgiveness, Resentment, and the Stakes of Contemporary Jews and Germans

In his famous study of forgiveness, Jacques Derrida reverses the theories of philosophers such as Hannah Arendt, for example, who argues that crimes of radical evil cannot be forgiven. Derrida writes: “Must one not maintain that an act of forgiveness worthy of its name, if there ever is such a thing, must forgive the unforgivable, and without condition?” (Derrida 2001 39).

Heteronomy resides in pure forgiveness so that only the unforgiveable crimes call for forgiveness. The victim’s forgiveness can be compared only to the depth of the perpetrator’s remorse. I would like to connect W. G. Sebald’s story “Max Ferber” to these abstract thoughts. Who does the story address? How does the story relate the fact that it is staging a quest for forgiveness made by a German to Jews? How does the story portray forgiveness and salvage forgiveness from being abused by the practical world? How does it represent the unforgiveable crimes of the perpetrator?

I will closely study citations from Derrida, Sebald, and Bruno Schulz. If possible, the Sebald story will be distributed via mail just before the meeting.

Idit Alphandary (Ph.D. at Yale University 2001), is a Senior Lecturer of Literature at Tel Aviv University.  She also lectures at American universities (Yale, University at Buffalo) and at Freie Universität, Berlin.  Her articles on the novel, film, aesthetics and psychoanalysis have appeared in such journals as Philosophy Today, CR: The New Centennial Review, Philip Roth Studies, Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research, and Textus, as well as on the edited volume, Psychoanalysis, Aesthetics, and Politics in the Work of Julia Kristeva, (SUNY Press 2009).  She completed a book manuscript, Autonomy, Fantasy and the Other: An Essay on Literature and Object Relations in Guy de Maupassant and D. W. Winnicott.  She is currently completing an MS, Love, Forgiveness, and Resentment. She is the editor of a collection of articles on interdisciplinary studies in feminism, Writing in Progress on Interdisciplinary Issues in Feminism. She is co-editor with Leszek  Koczanowicz of a volume of articles, Democracy, Dialogue, Memory. Her current research projects are Forgiveness Between Israel and Germany, a study in collaboration with German scholars and End of Life Issues in the Work of W. G. Sebald, an interdisciplinary study at Tel Aviv University. Her expertise comprises the nineteenth and twentieth- century French and British novel and her work involves psychoanalytical interpretations of literature and film.  Using philosophy of the everyday she examines the relevance of post-structuralism to the study of on the one hand, English Romantic Poetry and on the other hand, storytelling and speech-act theories in the novel and in Film.

Registration is not required, but if you are nice, you’ll send an email to Caroline if you intend to participate, qlh961@hum.ku.dk.