Event—Scholarly Seminars

Helen Deutsch, UCLA

Jonathan Swift, Edward Said, and the Demands of Late Style, Helen Deutsch

Jonathan Swift’s irony displaces us not only metaphorically and ethically but also temporally, an untimeliness I will characterize, drawing upon the work of one of Swift’s most passionate interlocutors, Edward Said, as “late.” Such irony leaves no firm ground upon which to build either a monument to oneself or a barrier to divide oneself from the inhuman, or the inhumane. Edward Said’s career-long conversation with Swift, I will argue, culminated in his final unfinished book on late style, in which illness and disability take on unsettling literary forms that refuse the present in order to appeal to the future. At our own moment of crisis, how might this exigent and angry conversation both demand and (dis)figure a future for eighteenth-century studies?