“What, Ultimately, for?” Trilling, Leavis, and the Limits of Cultural Criticism

The Lionel Trilling Seminar

April 23, 2013

Through a re-consideration of several classic instances, this lecture explores some of the ways in which the very excesses of polemical or satirical contributions to public debate may themselves be the main bearer of more adequate conceptions of human life. It asks the unsettling question: might the outrageous offensiveness of F.R. Leavis's notorious attack on C.P. Snow actually provide a better model than contributions that are normally regarded as more 'constructive' and 'helpful'?