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Digital Dialogue
Digital Dialogue
Digital Dialogue 49: Poetic Pessimism

This episode of the Digital Dialogue was recorded at the 11th annual meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society in Sundance, UT. On it, I am joined by Karen Gover and Kalliopi Nikolopoulou.

Karen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bennington College. She specializes in the areas of hermeneutics, ancient Greek philosophy, and aesthetics. She completed her PhD in November 2004 with a dissertation titled Heidegger and the Question of Tragedy, which she is expanding into a book on Heidegger and poetry. Portions of this work appear in the International Philosophical Quarterly (June 2008) and the Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology (January 2009).
She is also the winner of the American Society for Aesthetics’ 2011 John Fisher Memorial Prize, awarded bi-annually for an original essay in aesthetics.
Gover’s winning essay, “Artistic Freedom and Moral Rights in Contemporary Art,” concerns a recent controversy and lawsuit between Swiss installation artist Christoph Buechel and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA.
Kalliopi Nikolopoulou is an Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Comparative Literature at SUNY Buffalo. Her research and teaching interests focus on philosophical approaches to European modernity (English, French, and German literatures, particularly poetry and poetics), psychoanalysis, and the relationship of the ancients to the moderns (with special emphasis on the genre of tragedy and its importance for philosophical thought from German Idealism to the present).
She has published articles on literature and continental aesthetics, on figures such as Homer, Baudelaire, Henry James, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Adorno and Kant. Her book manuscript Tragically Speaking: On the Use and Abuse of Theory for Life is forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press as 



the inaugural volume of its Symploke Studies in Contemporary Theory series.

Karen and Kalliopi joined me at Sundance to talk about the paper Karen presented on April 14th entitled Poetic Pessimism, Mortal Fools, and the Transition to Philosophy. Kalliopi responded to the essay and I thought it would be nice to continue the discussion they begin there here on the Digital Dialogue.


  • dirkusa says:

    what stood out for me is the question of whether to try and address the needs/psyche/interests of the particular one, especially face to face, or to try and address every/no-one.
    and how do the arts speak to broader publics through very particular, if not directly auto-biographical, visions/images/tones, and can philosophy learn from, incorporate, such rhetorical practices/experiments, rather than just employing the arts as examples or like Rorty and others as substitutions for?

  • I agree with you, Dirk, that there something decisively important about the need to address each individual one encounters. As a matter of fact, this is really the cornerstone of my new book on the practice of Socratic politics. His political engagement was always directed toward the individual with whom he was engaged.

  • dirkusa says:

    this is why I come back to Dewey and the need for early education (sorry to hear about that local school closing) reform in our efforts to try and achieve a more democratic country.
    and more particularly in our conversation here about the limits of the kinds of relationships that are now possible in higher ed, esp. with undergrads. How much does a lecturer know about her/his pupils, and how individualized can education be, what role does/might technology play?

  • Yes, the closing of the Preschool was sad. You are right about the importance of early education as well.
    But what I want to mention here is the success I have had in getting to know my students personally via social media. Obviously there is a boundary that always must be maintained, but my students and I tweet back and forth all the time now (we use Facebook too sometimes) and I have a much better sense of who they are, when I do have face to face conversations with them. To do this well, however, requires a high degree of integrity and a willingness to be open to the concrete lives of students. I find, though, that my face to face encounters with them are enriched by our ongoing online communications.

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