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Shocks and Sympathies

Shocks and Sympathies

Four Modes of Reading Lectures by MJ Kooy

The aim of these lectures is to examine the ways literature aims to evoke calculated responses in us as readers, notably by distancing us from the familiar (shock) or by inviting us to identify, sometimes unexpectedly, with the unfamiliar or the unexpected (sympathy).  Both have long and important histories in poetic theory, and also very contemporary instantiations in modern poetry, prose and drama.  Each lecture will focus on one particular strategy that seeks either to shock us or to awaken sympathy in us.  These four are:

Week 7    Alienation (Brecht, Benjamin on Brecht, Shlovsky) (shock!)

Week 8    The Sublime (Burke on the sublime) (shock again!)

Week 10  The Tragic (Aristotle on tragedy) (sympathy!)  


Recordings of these lectures are now available here