Shakespeare, Jankélévitch, and the Aesthetics of the Ineffable

NOV 01, 2019 | 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


4116: Hisp/Luso Student Lounge


November 01, 2019: 4:00 PM




Global Early Modern Studies Certificate Program and Comparative Literature


Though not well known in the English-speaking world, Vladimir Jankélévitch (1931-1985) is regarded in France as the intellectual successor of Henri Bergson. This talk will focus on Jankélévitch’s contributions to aesthetics, especially his work on barely perceptible forms, which he draws from music and the language of mysticism. Jankélévitch’s interest in the ‘almost nothing’ led him toward early modern authors such as John of the Cross and Baltasar Gracián, who mentions the ‘almost nothing’ in his short treatise on heroism, El Heroe (1637).

This talk will argue that Jankélévitch’s definition of ineffable forms, forms pointing to the unrepresentable and an aesthetics of insubstantiality, illuminates the idea of the hero in Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

Christine Sukic is Professor of English Literature at the University of Reims in France. Her latest book is Heroic Bodies on the Early Modern Stage: A Poetics of the Ineffable (Routledge, forthcoming 2019).