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Title: The CounterText interview : Timothy Clark
Authors: Clark, Timothy
Aquilina, Mario
Keywords: Literature -- Philosophy
Literature -- History and criticism -- Theory, etc.
Arts -- Interviews
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.
Citation: Clark, T., & Aquilina, M. (2015). The CounterText interview : Timothy Clark. CounterText, 1(3), 273-288.
Abstract: What I did not know in 2008, meeting Timothy Clark for the first time as a PhD student looking to research questions on style, was that his work had started turning into a new direction. By then, I had carefully studied his defining studies on The Theory of Inspiration (1997), Derrida, Heidegger, Blanchot (1992), and, particularly, The Poetics of Singularity (2005), but a few months before our meeting, I realised later, he had published an essay on deconstruction and environmental criticism (2008) and the year before he had written on the seemingly impossible idea of a ‘Green Blanchot’ (2007). These early examples of what may be described as a second phase in his work have been followed by a sustained interest in environmental criticism, including a very well-known essay on scale (2012) and culminating in a potentially discipline-changing book that at the time of writing of this introduction is within days of being published but which will have been released by the time this issue of CounterText goes to print: Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept (2015). It is precisely because of this ‘turn’ or ‘swerve’ in Clark’s interests, from an identifiably poststructuralist and deconstructionist direction in his critique to a more ecologically committed critical practice, that I felt an interview with him for CounterText would be appropriate. To (mis)quote the inside cover of this journal on the countertextual and the post-literary, Clark’s interest in ‘literature is not what it used to be’, in the sense that it has changed in subject matter and in purpose, even if definitely not in value and insight. He retains a fundamental concern with literature – as his several close readings of literary and poetic texts in his latest book testify – but he does so in the context of what he calls (below) the ‘zombification’ of certain forms of textual criticism. Faced by crises of a global scale, the daunting, even apocalyptic, prospects of climate change, what do we do with the given ways of reading and analysis of literature? What forms and shapes does literature take in the age of global warming? And how does literary criticism reorient itself in the context of these realities?
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