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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Postgraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedClayton First semester 2010 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Andrew Benjamin


This unit will provide a detailed exploration of the internal logic of a particular approach or a set of related problems in contemporary critical theory. Negativity has been a durable theme of modern thought and writing, and in recent years it has become of considerable structural interest. The notion is variously defined, ususally with reference to one or more of philosophy, psychoanalysis and theology. This seminar seeks to analyse 'negativity' in the work of Franz Kafka and Maurice Blanchot, and it will do so with the help of critical theorists.


  1. To gain a close and full knowledge of two central writers of prose fiction in the twentieth century, Franz Kafka and Maurice Blanchot.

  1. To gain an awareness of the main lines of critical debate surrounding these works.

  1. To master the basic arguments pertaining to the problematic of negativity (roughly: Hegel, Kojeve, Adorno, Bataille).

  1. To develop skills in evaluating different readings of these writers, especially Blanchot's account of Kafka.

  1. To write coherently, economically and rigorously on both the literary and critical texts.


Two essays (4500 words each): 100%

Chief examiner(s)

Andrew Benjamin

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week