Seven Modes of Uncertainty
Associate Professor of English Namwali Serpell’s research interests include the relationship among aesthetic reception, affect, and ethics in contemporary fiction and film.
Two ideas often taken for granted are, literature is rife with uncertainty and literature is good for us. But what is the relationship between literature’s capacity to unsettle, perplex, and bewilder us, and literature’s ethical value? To revive this question, Serpell proposes a return to William Empson’s groundbreaking work, Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), which contends that literary uncertainty is crucial to ethics because it pushes us beyond the limits of our own experience.
After an introduction by Katie Fleishman (PhD Candidate, English), Serpell will speak briefly about her book and then open the floor for discussion.