What exactly is the relation between totalities, or the drive to totalize (or to totalitarianism) and modernism? In this talk, we will consider a certain origin of modernism through the Marquis de Sade and his impulse toward an absolute tally of perversions, and how such a totalizing drive has configured modernism’s history up to Baudelaire, Beckett, Derrida, and beyond.
James Martell is Associate Professor of Romance Languages at Lyon College. He co-edited Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature (Roman Books) with Arka Chattopadhyay in 2013, with Fernanda Negrete, in 2018, a special volume of Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, titled ‘Beckett Beyond Words,’ and in 2021 Tattooed Bodies: Theorizing Body Inscription Across Disciplines and Cultures (Palgrave) with Erik Larsen. His book, Modernism, Self- Creation, and the Maternal: The Mother’s Son (Routledge) was published in 2019. He is currently editing a book on the Marquis de Sade and modernism, working on a short book on Beckett and Derrida for Cambridge Elements, and on a monograph on surfaces of thought in European literature and philosophy.