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Dr. Wayne Rebhorn, Director 208 W. 21st St. Stop B5003, Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-471-1925

Karen A Pagani

Assistant Professor Ph.D., University of Chicago

Assistant Professor of French Literature
Karen A Pagani

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Biography

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. She recently finished a manuscript entitled, "Forgiving Men and Citizens: Anger and Subjectivity in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau" and is forthcoming with University of Toronto Press.

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 historicallydeterminedvocabulary 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.

Interests

Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century moral theory (British, French, German); Seventeenth and eighteenth-century French novel; Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie; Historical semantics; Secularization.

Publications

“Judging Oswald within the Limits of Reason Alone in Madame de Staël’s Corinne.”  The        European Romantic Review, volume 23.2 (February, 2012): pp. 141-56.

“The Uses and Abuses of Joseph Butler’s Account of Forgiveness:  Between the Passions and the        Interests.” The South Central Review, volume 27.3(Fall, 2010): pp. 12-33.

Forgiving Men and Citizens: Anger and Subjectivity in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (forthcoming with University of Toronto Press)

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