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Dehumanisation in Literature: Perpetrators without Crimes

Poster picture (open access Fortepan archive)
Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

The lecture explores in new ways how the study of literary fiction contributes to and complicates our understanding of the concept of dehumanization by constantly putting it on trial. Based on literary case studies that foreground the experience of perpetrators, the lecture will draw, firstly, a distinction between dehumanising representations that invite the reader to share the perpetrator’s point of view, and representations of dehumanisation that put the process of dehumanization on critical display, inviting more complex readerly responses.  Secondly, it introduces a new distinction between immoral, but law-abiding perpetrators and revolting criminals. Evoking two fictional deployments of the process of dehumanization, the lecture ultimately points to the singular capacity of literature to show the clash between ethics and the law