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The Lionel Trilling Seminar: Amanda Anderson

The Lionel Trilling Seminar

dateOctober 20, 2022 timeThursday, 6:15pm–7:30pm EDT location Buell Hall, Maison Française, Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Registration required. See details.
  • Free and open to the public
  • First come, first seated
Headshot of Amanda Anderson

Lionel Trilling (1905-75), one of Columbia's most celebrated faculty members, was among the great humanist scholars and public intellectuals of the 20th century. In his memory, The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities sponsors a series of intellectual conversations known as the Lionel Trilling Seminars.

This fall, esteemed literary scholar and theorist Amanda Anderson will deliver a lecture entitled "Political Psychology, Literary Studies, and the Question of Method."

Despite extensive interest over the past few decades in the question of method, the literary field’s informing psychological frameworks are often not subject to much scrutiny, particularly its tendency to privilege psychoanalytic categories drawn from the tradition of Freud, Klein, and Lacan. Taking John Guillory’s Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation as a case in point, she will explore the ways in which the encounter with the psychological unconscious of the field remains largely deferred thirty years later after the publication of that important study. One consequence of this field condition is that the dominant psychological assumptions continue to have an ineluctable connection to, and constraint on, the field’s political imaginary. By shifting our attention to post-Kleinian object relations (Winnicott, in particular) and Axel Honneth’s work on recognition and respect, we might begin to develop a political psychology more attuned to current challenges and more in line with some of the impulses behind the method debates.

Amanda Anderson is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English and Director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities at Brown University. She is the author, most recently, of Character: Three Inquiries in Literary Study (University of Chicago Press, 2019; with Rita Felski and Toril Moi), Psyche and Ethos: Moral Life after Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2018), and Bleak Liberalism (University of Chicago, 2016).


Nicholas Dames is a specialist in the novel, with particular attention to the novel of the nineteenth century in Britain and on the European continent. His interests include novel theory, the history of reading, and the aesthetics of prose fiction from the seventeenth century to the present. He is the author of Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870 (Oxford University Press, 2001), which was awarded the Sonya Rudikoff Prize by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association; and The Physiology of the Novel: Reading, Neural Science, and the Form of Victorian Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2007).

Nancy Yousef specializes in literature and philosophy of the Romantic era. Her research and teaching are centered in British and European Romanticism, but also extend to eighteenth-century sources and forward into the later nineteenth-century. She is especially interested in the intersections between philosophical writing and literary form and in the relations among aesthetics, ethics, and representation of the emotions. She is the author of three books: Isolated Cases (Cornell University Press, 2004), Romantic Intimacy (Stanford University Press, 2013; winner of the Barricelli Prize), and The Aesthetic Commonplace (Oxford University Press, 2022).

Introduction by Eileen Gillooly, Executive Director of the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.