Karen A Pagani
Assistant Professor — Ph.D., University of Chicago
Assistant Professor of French Literature
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Phone: 471-5737
- Office: HRH 3.112B
- Office Hours: By appointment
- Campus Mail Code: B7600
Karen Pagani began working at The University of Texas in 2008. She received both her M.A. and Ph.D from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. Her current book project, "Marginal Prophet Figures: Accounting for Forgiveness in the Age of Reason," explores what was a discursive crisis in understanding the concept of forgiveness in purely secular terms during the late seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Discursive crisis denotes in this context a peculiar situation in which a concept proved to be incompatible with a specific communicative system’s historically determined vocabulary but could not be abandoned for both ideological and practical reasons. Through an historical analysis of the literary, philosophical, theological and political discourses of the period, this project will provide a nuanced understanding as to why forgiveness was so difficult to speak about during this period and, in the conclusion, how these difficulties may still influence our understanding of the concept today. Much of the impetus behind this study stems from the observation that there is a historicity to the concept forgiveness. The project thus poses a challenge to more contemporary accounts of forgiveness that advocate a transcendent, universalizing notion of the concept. One of the questions implicit within this historical study, and to which the conclusion shall be devoted, may be stated as follows: how can we relate more recent accounts of forgiveness that pretend to universality to an otherwise predominant tendency to historicize the concept of forgiveness? Some of the majors authors studied in the work include: Corneille, Pascal, Racine, Molière, Joseph Butler, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau and Madame de Staël.
The South Central Review, volume 27.3. Winner of the Kirby Prize for Best Article of the Year in The South Central Review.
This paper provides an alternate explanation to those that have been offered by other scholars, such as Paul Newberry and Charles L. Griswold, as to why forgiveness as Butler understood it neither entails nor requires the overcoming of feelings of resentment but, rather, functions solely as an antidote to the potentially deleterious effects of vengeance. This is accomplished through an analysis of the distinction that Butler draws between self-interest and other-directed passions and, it follows, between those actions and emotions that are applicable within the public and private spheres respectively. These distinctions are cast in this paper as directing Butler’s discussion of forgiveness as per the Fifteen Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel