Caio Yurgel (Pelotas, Brazil) has worked for several years in arts management before obtaining his B.A. in Philosophy and his M.A. in Literary Studies (PUCRS, Brazil). He also holds an Art Management and Culture Policies degree from the Universitat de Girona (UdG, Spain). He is the recipient of the Mario Pedrosa Award (2010) for his research on Walter Benjamin, as well as of three other awards for his fiction. He has been awarded a 6-month fellowship to the Wertewelten program at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, as well as month-long research stays at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP, Argentina). He holds a summa cum laude PhD in Comparative Literature from the Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Terry Eagleton once described realism as the image of a banana which we gladly recognize as a banana. The broader and implicit question of why realism has such deep roots in the Western psyche is one that remains open, but it is unquestionable that it has been the main literary currency since at least the mid-19th century — despite the numerous movements or authors that have sought to destabilize it ever since. Rather than delving into the elusive nature of the Western psyche, this seminar will resort to two recent instalments in the ongoing history of the destabilization of realism in the West (Tom McCarthy's 2005 début novel Remainder and Charlie Kaufman's 2008 feature film Synecdoche, New York) in order to promote a joint-debate on this most resilient cultural form and to use it as a gateway to discuss our own research methods and habits.
This project seeks to posit a world that has ended - the world of the second half of the 20th century - in order to investigate ways of making sense of this post-apocalyptic reality, especially through literature. The central question asked here, in the wake of literary realism, post-modernism and post-colonialism, is: what kinds of narrative and epistemic strategies does the 21st century novel call upon? Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous masterpiece 2666 offers itself as one of the most compelling guides for such an enterprise, insofar as it allows for a reading of the universal motif of the apocalypse, in its global iterations, through a Latin-American key, thus performing what I call “De-localization”, i.e.: to intentionally shift the epistemic locus of enunciation as a means of gaining a new perspective on a broad phenomenon. Thus a “de-localized” literary expertise of Latin-America, by way of Bolaño’s “de-civilizing” strategies, would emerge as an alternative to engaging with the narrative demands and challenges of a post-apocalyptic 21st century.