Tuesday, April 9 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Taper Hall (THH), 309k
3501 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089
The Idea of Philology: Or, What Auerbach Learned from Vico
Jane O. Newman, Professor of Comparative Literature (UC Irvine)
The famed German-Jewish philologist, Erich Auerbach (1892-1957) is sometimes referred to as the “father of Comparative Literature” in the United States because of the foundational role that his book Mimesis (German, 1946; English 1953) played in the development of the field; more recently, his essay, “The Philology of World Literature” (1952) has taken over that foundational role as Comparative Literature seeks to untangle itself from the European tradition at the core of Mimesis. This talk will address Auerbach’s work not from the point of view of which canon he may or may not have favored, but, rather, in terms of the work he thought that a “philosophical philology” could do in unearthing the darker sides of humanity’s shared histories and common fate. Auerbach was, as it turns out, less a student of a particular tradition of literary realism than a theorist of the impact that the perverse realities of human finitude impose upon each and every one of us and across all civilizations. This insight into what Auerbach himself called the “human condition” was one he learned from the work of the Italian philosopher and theorist of history, Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), about whom Auerbach wrote some fifteen times between 1921 and 1957. In this context, it’s thus not surprising to learn that, as he wrote more than once, Auerbach had his “idea of philology” from Vico as well. This talk will explore Auerbach’s life-long engagement with Vico’s work and the relation of Vico’s philology to Auerbach’s own.
Sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, the Department of French and Italian, the Department of Classics, the Department of English, and the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
This talk is part of a lecture series on “The Returns of Philology” organized by Veli N. Yashin, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature