Caroline Levine, Cornell University
Literary and cultural studies have long prized moments of rupture and resistance. This talk asks instead how we might imagine, design, and build just collective ways of life to last. Because humans are interdependent, because we have always lived in groups, humans have always needed to figure out—and will probably always need to figure out—how to organize and distribute the shared labor of maintaining and reproducing of bodies, including the production and preparation of food, care for infants, the ill, and the elderly, and arrangements of space for shelter and gathering. A general fact of human life is that we must live in common. Could we then sketch out some arrangements of space and time, some organizations of power and resources, some patterns of distribution and conservation, that are more supportive of the common good than others? And how might it change literary studies to take this as our primary task?