The Lionel Trilling Seminar

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Free and open to the public

First come, first seated

Photo ID required for entry

    Event Video
    Spring 2013 Lionel Trilling Seminar, “What, Ultimately, for?”

It is often observed that although cultural critics may be good at denouncing the instrumentalism and reductivism they identify as corroding the public discourse of their time, they fail to articulate any persuasive statement of a positive ideal.  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?'


  • Featured Speaker

    Stefan Collini

    Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature

    University of Cambridge

  • Respondent

    Mary Poovey

    Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities, Professor of English

    New York University

  • Respondent

    Bruce Robbins

    Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities

    Columbia University


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