The Columns

Literary Critic Philip Fisher to Lecture in Questioning Passion Series on Nov. 12

— by on November 9th, 2015

Philip Fisher, the Felice Crowl Reid Professor of English at Harvard University, will lecture as part of the Questioning Passion series at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 12 at 4:30 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

He will speak on “Kindness and Malice: Ethics and the Passions.” His talk is free and open to the public.

Fisher’s book, “The Vehement Passions” (2002), analyzes the nature and value of intense emotion. He is working on a book about passions that move us ethically, in particular kindness and malice.

“We invited Fisher because of his stellar reputation as author and literary critic in general, and more particularly because of our respect for his book ‘The Vehement Passions,’” said Jeffrey Kosky, professor of religion and one of the organizers of the Questioning Passion series. “‘The Vehement Passions’ is an exceptional work that has proven to have great appeal among both scholarly and general audiences.”

Equally at ease in literature as Fisher is in philosophy and psychology, he attempts a very important recovery of strong emotions, what could also be called ‘the vehement passions,’ ones that people are often taught to suppress for ethical or social reasons.

Other publications include “Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction” (2000) and “Wonder, the Rainbow and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences” (1998).

Fisher is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a senior scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles; held a senior fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin; and was a Guggenheim fellow.

Fisher received the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for his book “Still the New World;” received the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize at Harvard; and has delivered the Christian Gauss seminars at Princeton on the subject of the passions, among other things.