posted February 18, 2008

Lecturer to Present “The Death of Criticism?”

The English literary critic Terry Eagleton will present the address "The Death of Criticism?" on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m. in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication as this year's De Graaf lecture at HopeCollege.

A reception will follow in the rotunda.

The public is invited to both the address and the reception. Admission is free.

Eagleton is the John Edward Taylor Professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester. He began his career as a scholar of Victorian literature and now specializes in literary and cultural theory and the English-language literature and culture of Ireland.

A prolific writer within and without the academic world, Eagleton is the author of more than 40 books, including, most recently, "How To Read A Poem," "Jesus Christ: The Gospels" and "The Meaning of Life." He is, perhaps, best known as the author of "Literary Theory: An Introduction."

Eagleton is often at the center of international literary quarrels. His recent and widely read review of "The God Delusion," the atheistic treatise by Richard Dawkins, begins with this barb: "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology."

Eagleton is no gentler on the subject of his own academic specialty, writing in his landmark 2003 book "After Theory," that "cultural theory as we have it promises to grapple with some fundamental problems, but on the whole fails to deliver. It has been shamefaced about morality and metaphysics, embarrassed about love, biology, religion and revolution, largely silent about evil, reticent about death and suffering, dogmatic about essences, universals and foundations, and superficial about truth, objectivity and disinterestedness. This, on any estimate, is rather a large slice of human existence to fall down on. It is also rather an awkward moment in history to find oneself with little or nothing to say about such fundamental questions."

The Clarence De Graaf Lectureship was established in 1988 by the family of Dr. Clarence De Graaf in memory of his service on the faculty of Hope College. De Graaf, who died in 1986, taught in the department of English for 44 years, from 1928 until his retirement in 1972, and served as department chair for 25 of those years.

The Martha Miller Center for Global Communication is located at 257 Columbia Ave., at the corner of Columbia Avenue and 10th Street.