Robert Walser's Topicality and the Descriptive Turn

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The article examines the relation between the sudden rise of public interest in the Swiss writer Robert Walser at the turn of the millennium and the simultaneous emergence of Latourian-inspired methodological discussions in the field of literary studies. In light of the striking commonalities between Walser’s literary practice and Bruno Latour’s research strategy, the article claims that Latour’s project should not just be conceived as a possible source of inspiration to the humanities but as a configuration deeply enmeshed in aesthetic devices from the very outset. Furthermore, the great fascination of Walser among contemporary writers and readers stems from the fact that his writings offer new ways of reading that are exempted from the duty of suspicious interpretation and structure-building efforts, highly relevant to the current deadlock regarding critique in literary studies, but also —owing to Latour’s undoing of the divide between art and science —in academia as such. How we are encouraged to meet a text does not leave unaffected how we tend to meet the world, the attentive and descriptive low-key attitude practiced by Walser potentially boosting Latour’s call for an extensive transformation of matters of fact into matters of concern.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOn_Culture: The Open Journal for the Study of Culture
Issue number7
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


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