The Trouble with Literature

Image of book cover

The Trouble with Literature

Victoria Kahn
Berkeley Book Chats

In The Trouble with Literature (Oxford, 2020), Victoria Kahn (Comparative Literature and English) argues that the literature of the English Reformation marks a turning point in Western thinking about literature and literariness. But instead of arguing that the Reformation fostered English literature, as scholars have often done, Kahn claims that literature helped undo the Reformation.

Tracing the roots of the modern understanding of literature as offering aesthetic, non-cognitive pleasure, Kahn probes the implications that such a notion has for our understanding of both poetry and belief. The book is based on the Clarendon Lectures in English Literature, which Kahn delivered at Oxford in 2017.

Kahn is joined by Niklaus Largier (German and Comparative Literature). After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.