Indiana University Bloomington

Spring 2022: Schedule of the Reading Group

Conveners: Anke Birkenmaier (Department of Spanish & Portuguese) and Oana Panaïté (Department of French & Italian).

The reading group usually meets Fridays, 2 - 3:30 pm, in Maxwell Hall 122. Participants can attend in person or via Zoom.

The texts under discussion are:

  • Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (PR). Translated by Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997.
  • Edouard Glissant, Treatise on the Whole-World. Translated by Celia Britton. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2020. Available as e-book via IUCAT.

Jan. 21
Poetics of Relation, “Imaginary”;
APPROACHES. “The Open Boat”; “Errantry, Exile” (1-23).

Jan. 28
PR, “Poetics”; “A Rooted Errantry” (23-45).

Feb. 4
PR, ELEMENTS. “Repetitions”; “Expanse and Filiation”; “Closed Space, Open Word” (45-63). Please note: The Feb. 4 meeting will be held via Zoom only.

Feb. 11                       
PR, “Concerning a Baroque”; “Concerning the Poem’s Information” (77-89).

Feb. 18
PR, PATHS. “Creolizations”; “Dictate, Decree”; “To Build the Tower” (89-103).

Feb. 25           
PR, “Transparency and Opacity”; “The Black Beach” (111-131).

March 4          
PR, THEORIES. “Relation”; “The Relative and Chaos”; “Distancing,
Determining”; “That That” (131-169).

March 11        
PR, “Relinked, (Relayed), Related.”
POETICS. “Generalization”; “That Those Beings”; “For Opacity” (169-195)    .

March 25
Visit by Charles Forsdick

Apr. 1             
, “Open Circle, Lived Relation”; “The Burning Beach” (195-211).

Apr. 8-9         
Glissant Symposium

Apr. 15
Treatise on the Whole-World, “The Gardens in the Sands”; “The Cry of the
World”; “Repetitions” (5-27)
. Meeting via Zoom only.

Apr. 22
Treatise on the Whole-World, “The Time of the Other”; “Writing” (55-77).

Apr. 29
Treatise on the Whole-World, “Punctuations” (111-129); “Measure, Immeasurability” (137-152).


Reading Édouard Glissant


In the Spring term, the Theory Center reading group devotes itself to reading two works by Martinican writer and thinker Édouard Glissant (1928-2011), Poetics of Relation (Poétique de la Relation 1990, English translation 1997) and selections from Treatise on the Whole-World (Traité du Tout-Monde, 1996, English 2020). The reading group is convened by two scholars with deep roots in Caribbean and postcolonial studies, Anke Birkenmaier (Department of Spanish & Portuguese) and Oana Panaïté (Department of French & Italian).

An award-winning writer of fiction and poetry, Glissant developed a distinctive aesthetic and philosophical lexicon that has shaped the language and perspectives of later generations of theorists in poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and globalization, among them Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Derek Walcott, Abdelkebir Khatibi, and Achille Mbembe. His work Poetics of Relation elaborates a theory of writing that takes the living history of the Caribbean islands as a point of departure to argue that we are all shaped by what he calls “Relation.” For Glissant, the place where Relation can be located is not in cultures but in poetics, and he leads us through the great works of literature, myth, and philosophy in an attempt at understanding what connects them. In doing so, the book teases out different forms of relating through concepts such as errantry and exile, rhizomatic thinking, creolization, chaos, the baroque, and opacity, and also in poetic images, such as the open boat and the burning beach.

In 2020, the Glissant Translation Project started publishing Glissant’s works in English in a comprehensive manner, attesting to the continued interest in his work. We will also read selections from Treatise on the Whole-World, which takes us beyond the discussion of Glissant’s poetics and philosophy and introduces us to his reflections on “trembling” thinking,  the “Whole-World,” orality, and the common place (entour), ideas that have influenced a younger generation of scholars in environmental humanities, intermediality, and visual arts.

The reading group meets every Friday afternoon starting Jan. 21, from 2 till 3:30, in Maxwell Hall 122. Like all Center activities, the reading group is open to the public.

Graduate students may receive independent-study credit for taking part in the reading group (1 - 4 credits of CTIH-T 700). Interested students should contact the convenesr, Professors Anke Birkenmaier and Oana Panaïté, to agree on a work plan and get permission to register.

The Reading Group constitutes the intellectual heart of the Center and predates the Center by many years. Here are some of the major texts the group has studied:

Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Arendt, The Human Condition
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
Badiou, Being and Event.
Bakhtin, Art and Answerability.
Beauvoir, The Second Sex.
Bergson, Matter and Memory.
Blumenberg,The Legitimacy of the Modern Age.
Cavell, The Claims of Reason.
Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.
Deleuze, Cinema I; Difference and Repetition.
Fink, Play as Symbol of the World.
Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject.
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Gadamer, Truth and Method.
Heidegger, Being and Time; Contriburtions to Philosophy (Of the Event).
Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences.
Lyotard, The Differend.
Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception; The Visible and the Invisible.
Plato, The Laws.
Rancière, The Names of History.
Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet.
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf.