14.12. Guest lecture: Marco Caracciolo "Metaphorical Figures for Moral Complexity"

Marco Caracciolo
(Associate Professor of English and Literary Theory, Ghent University)
Wednesday December 14th at 10-12
Pinni B1096

If literary narrative as a practice is well suited to capture morally complex situations, that is in large part due to the work of literary (that is, narrative and stylistic) form. This paper examines the specific contribution that metaphorical language makes to the literary negotiation of moral complexity. The discussion is positioned vis-à-vis debates on the specific forms of moral knowledge that literature can provide, which I distinguish from both propositional meanings and the dilemmas entertained by analytic philosophers (for instance, the so-called trolley problem). Instead, I draw on metaphor studies to suggest that metaphorical language can enrich the moral resonance of literature by deepening (and complicating) readers’ engagement with fictional characters and the situations in which they are embedded. These metaphorical figures probe the experience captured by Cora Diamond under the rubric of the “difficulty of reality.” This idea is illustrated through a close reading of Lauren Groff’s short story “Flower Hunters,” which orchestrates a metaphorical “paranarrative” so as to encapsulate the protagonist’s existential and moral impasse in times of ecological crisis. 


Discussant: University lecturer (Comparative literature) Maria Mäkelä 


All interested most welcome!