Proyectos de Investigación

Democracy, Secrecy and Dissidence in Contemporary Literature in English (PID2019-104526GB-I00)

  • Referencia: PID2019-104526GB-I00
  • Financiado por Ministerio de Economí­a y Competitividad.
  • Investigadora principal: Paula Martín Salván.
  • Duración: 1/6/2020-30/5/2023.
  • Participantes: Jesús Blanco Hidalga (UCO), Mercedes Dí­az Dueñas (UGR), Paula Martí­n Salván (UCO), Mª Luisa Pascual Garrido (UCO) Juan Luis Pérez de Luque (UCO), Ángela Rivera (UGR), Gerardo Rodrí­guez Salas (UGR), Pilar Villar Argaiz (UGR).

Descripción: This project is anchored in two theoretical realms. On the one hand, the recent rise in the humanities and social sciences of what has come to be known as the field of secrecy studies (Birchall 2016), concerned with the central role played by secrets in public life, political structures and cultural representations, and fundamentally indebted to Georg Simmel’s sociological work on secrecy as a determining factor in social relationships. On the other hand, the idea, indebted to Jacques Derrida, that literature constitutes the privileged realm for the thinking of the secret. In their defence of the value of secrecy, thinkers and scholars in the field of secrecy studies tend to focus on secrets from a social and political point of view, and here lies the main contribution of this project: to show the crucial ways in which literature may contribute to our understanding and analysis of secrecy. In doing so, we are following a long line of critics and theorists – constituting our second theoretical anchor – that have approached literature as the realm of secrecy par excellence.

A tentative formulation of the connection between these two theoretical concerns may be succinctly put as follows: literary texts, to the extent that they remain always open for further interpretations which do not exhaust the immediate context of reading, can be perceived as exemplary forms of secrecy, replicating an operating mechanism which is to be found in all forms of human sociability and public life, as argued by Simmel. In our main aim to establish a dialogue between secrecy studies and literary studies, we are fundamentally indebted to the work of Jacques Derrida, in which the “implications” of his thoughts on the secret, as argued by Derek Attridge, “still have to be followed through with any comprehensiveness” (2010: 42).

The burgeoning field of secrecy studies may be characterized by its critique of a hegemonic discourse of transparency in public life, identified as a feature of political liberalism. This critique tends to be grounded on two different realms: 1) the tendency to establish a binary opposition between transparency and secrecy in which moral alignments are consistently traced; and 2) the totalizing tendencies of technopolitical transparency, whose most direct theoretical rendering is found in Foucaultian analyses of disciplinary societies.

The connection between literature and democracy seems to work, we may tentatively argue, at two levels: 1) as the realm where dissidence and resistance may be expressed, where the ideas of freedom of expression and censorship come to play most explicitly, and where, as Derrida argues in Given Time, an individual may refuse to take responsibility for whatever he/she may have written. 2) as the realm where the impossibility of full disclosure in any aspect of human life is most visible, as the literary work is precisely one that never exhaust its interpretive potential in a given context, so that the singularity of the text (Attridge) is made evident in each and every reading. As argued by Attridge (2020), the issue of form does not feature explicitly in Derrida’s account of the secret. Thus we join him in claiming that “the formal properties of literary works play a significant part in their impenetrability; they do not fold seamlessly into the meanings of the text.” A main concern in this project, then, is to identify these formal properties.

Dónde estamos

Información de contacto:

Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Plaza Cardenal Salazar 3
14071, Córdoba

Teléfono: (+34) 957 21 84 27