Profiles

Charlotta Elmgren

Charlotta Elmgren

Timlärare

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Works at Department of English
Telephone 08-16 26 22
Email charlotta.elmgren@english.su.se
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E, plan 8
Room E 834
Postal address Engelska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I received my Doctoral Degree in English Literature from Stockholm University in January 2019. My dissertation (forthcoming with Bloomsbury in 2020 as J.M. Coetzee's Poetics of the Child: Arendt, Agamben, and the (Ir)responsibilities of Literary Creation) explores how central tensions in J.M. Coetzee’s fiction converge in and are made visible by the child figure. Its central claim is that the child draws attention to how Coetzee’s poetics is characterized by a constant interplay between responsibility to the other—within and beyond history—on the one hand, and irresponsibility, indeterminacy and play on the other. Key to this argument is Giorgio Agamben’s emancipatory thinking on infancy, or the experience of the impotentiality of language, which can be understood as the capacity to hold thought in suspense. This complements productively those strands of existing Coetzee scholarship that, drawing on Maurice Blanchot, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida, find in Coetzee’s writing—and in responses to that writing—an ethics of hospitality to an alterity that is always yet to emerge. The dissertation articulates five central dynamics of a “poetics of the child” in Coetzee: the child as a figure of truth-telling and authenticity; an ethics of the not-so-other child; new beginnings and care for the world (exploring Hannah Arendt’s concepts of natality and amor mundi); a poetics of perpetual study; and the redemptive potential in the nonposition of infancy beyond the taxonomies of Western metaphysics.

My research interests lie primarily in contemporary fiction and in the intersections between literature, philosophy and theology. I am currently in the process of developing a postdoctoral research project situated along the boundaries between literary studies and educational philosophy, aiming to explore mobilisations and suspensions of potentiality in novelistic responses to evolving political and pedagogical discourses on “lifelong learning.”

During and after my doctoral studies, I have taught undergraduate courses in literary studies and academic writing, and supervised essays on the BA and Mag level.

 

 

 

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Charlotta Elmgren. Ariel 50 (2-3), 163-190

    This article argues that J. M. Coetzee's The Childhood of Jesus embodies a poetics of study. Noting Coetzee's sustained interest in educational thought, the article places Coetzee's enigmatic novel in dialogue with Giorgio Agamben's idea of study, which brings together the latter's foundational thinking on infancy, impotentiality (Agamben's term for the distinctly human capacity to withhold a certain potential), and the messianic. It shows how The Childhood of Jesus prompts its readers towards the experimentative pursuit of infinite possibilities for thought in the present moment, inviting a different mode of reading than the future-directed Derridean/Levinasian ethics of hospitality through which Coetzee's work is often read. In showing how Coetzee's late work resonates with Agamben's thought rather than Derrida's, the article highlights the emergence in Coetzee's fiction of a view of learning (and, analogously, of reading) that is characterized by irresponsibility and the idea of study with no presupposed end in sight-a dynamic that is quite distinct from an ethics of reading guided by responsibility towards a presupposed other to come.

Show all publications by Charlotta Elmgren at Stockholm University

Last updated: October 16, 2019

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