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Failing and falling forever seem to shadow one another. And for good reason: we humans live our lives pulled to the ground and pushing from it, somewhere between heaven and earth. In almost everything we do, we find ourselves entangled in failing and falling. But this talk also dwells on the ways the two are entangled in one another. Sometimes they align, and sometimes they drift apart. That is especially true of some of the most significant experiences in life: falling asleep, falling in love, but also falling for a work of art. In fact, I argue that this mode of failing-falling is the canonical way we approach any significant work.
Michel Chaouli teaches in the Department of Germanic Studies at Indiana University, and directs the Center for Theoretical Inquiry in the Humanities, which he helped found. He has been named an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Friedrich-Schlegel-School of Literary Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, to direct a research project called »The Philological Laboratory: Models of Criticism Beyond Critique« from 2018 to 2020. His intellectual interests focus on aesthetic theory, literature and philosophy, and ways of communicating intensive encounters with art, usually around texts from the German and European tradition beginning in the eighteenth century. Selected publications: Thinking With Kant’s Critique of Judgment (2017); Poetic Critique: Encounters with Art and Literature (Co-ed., forthcoming 2021).
Stefan Willer is professor of German literature at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His research focuses on literary and epistemic concepts of the future, on the cultural history of genealogy, generation and heritage, on theories of language and translation, and on the relations between literature and music.