Zack Brown is a PhD Candidate in the Poetics Program. With Dana Venerable, he is the co-editor of the literary journal P-Queue. He is the author of Receipts (LUMA/89plus) and Woods (above/ground press).
His dissertation triangulates three questions: (1) What is so-called 'Continental Philosophy'? What are its essential aims, practices, and commitments? What differentiates it from other modes of philosophy and why has it thus found its academic home in literature departments rather than philosophy departments? (2) What is the avant-garde? Why does it emerge at the turn of the nineteenth century? Is an avant-garde still possible in our present moment? (3) What is literary studies? What does it mean to study literature? What are literary objects (if they are objects) and why should they concern us? These three large and seemingly distant concerns, the dissertation argues, emerge with renewed urgency in our present moment because they share a common historical legacy in the philosophical development of "Critique." The dissertation thus concerns itself with Critique (in the technical, Kantian sense) in a two-fold way: first, it attempts to sketch the history of Critique (from its early formulation in enlightenment philosophy to our present moment) and, second, it attempts to consider whether we might reimagine Critique otherwise than in the form in which we have received it from nineteenth-century German philosophy. If we are at an end of Critique, so to speak, if the leaks in the hull of the enlightenment conception of Critique have reached a limit point, then certain contemporary poetic works that reimagine the Critical Avant-Garde stand in a privileged position for addressing the very concerns that first necessitate a reflection on Critique.