March 4, 2019 from 3 - 5 PM
Bonnie Honig Seminar
“Bartleby” as a Figure of Inoperativity: The Body Politics of Post-Work
Bartleby, the ubiquitous figure of refusal, is a character in a short story by Herman Melville, whose refusal is expressed in his now famous formula, “I [would] prefer not to. “ In this seminar we will discuss the story in detail, assessing the power and limits of refusal, in language and at work, in Melville’s story. We will attend not only to Bartleby but also, with the help of supplementary texts, to the story’s historical context (eg., the Astor Place riots) and to the other characters all of whom refuse work in a variety of creative ways. Why then has it been Bartleby who has so captured the imagination of critical theorists from Deleuze to Agamben?
Recommended Readings (read in this order):
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story Of Wall-street,” from The Piazza Tales, 1856.
Giles Deleuze, “Bartleby; Or, The Formula,” from Essays Critical and Clinical (68-90), 1997.
Jessica Whyte, “‘I Would Prefer Not To’: Giorgio Agamben, Bartleby and the Potentiality of the Law,” from Law Critique (20, 309-324), 2009.
Lee Edelman, “Occupy Wall Street: ‘Bartleby’ Against the Humanities,” from History of the Present (3:1), 2013.
- Barbara Foley, “From Wall Street to Astor Place: Historicizing Melville’s ‘Bartleby’,” from American Literature (72:1), 2000.