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Faculty Research Spotlight: Dr. Eugene B. Young

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This is the first article in a new series which will discuss faculty research in various departments across campus. If you would like to see a faculty member featured, send an email to [email protected]

This fall, the McDevitt Center is hosting a Humanities Research Seminar series, in which professors of the humanities have the opportunity to showcase their research. One of the professors participating in this lecture series is Dr. Eugene B. Young, Ph.D. As a professor in both the English and Philosophy departments, Dr. Young’s interests involve literature, cinema, and the philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze and Maurice Blanchot. His dissertation research explored paradox in religion, literature, and philosophy. He published The Deleuze and Guattari Dictionary in 2013, a comprehensive guide to the works of Gilles Deleuze, establishing Dr. Young as a Deleuze expert. Dr. Young’s current research combines his past work about paradox and Deleuze into one book that he hopes will be a resource for non-experts to learn about the significance of Deleuze’s books on cinema.

Gilles Deleuze was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. He wrote on philosophy, literature, fine art, and film, the latter of which is the focus of Dr. Young’s current research. Deleuze’s books on cinema combine an assortment of concepts from his past work that is difficult for readers who are unfamiliar with him to understand. Dr. Young aims to use his book to define cinematic art, a topic which Deleuze discussed, to influence the culture of film criticism in the United States.

Film criticism in the United States is based almost entirely on the rating of a movie – whether it is “good” or “bad” in the subjective eyes of an individual critic. The philosophers David Hume and Immanuel Kant, among others, discussed the subjectivity and objectivity of art. Dr. Young argues, similarly to Deleuze, that the subjectivity of art is problematic, and criticism should embrace interpretation instead of a simple judgment of a film. Dr. Young is especially interested to explore this subject in America’s current political climate when many people find comfort in “escapism,” the act of escaping reality through a film, which Deleuze resisted.

Dr. Young will also be discussing the influence that Maurice Blanchot had on Deleuze, and why Deleuze chose to use Blanchot – a philosopher who lived through the entire 20th century but never wrote about the film – at pivotal moments in his books on cinema.

The research for Dr. Young’s next book is complete, and he is currently working with his previous publisher, Bloomsbury, to find out if he will receive a contract to write the book. Most of the research was conducted over the last five years, but the book will also contain information from his dissertation. For further reading into the subject of this research, Dr. Young suggests “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman, a Huxleyan interpretation of our addiction to entertainment.

Dr. Young’s McDevitt Center Lecture, “How the True World Finally Became a Bad Film,” takes place on Monday, November 12, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm in the Drescher Community Room. He will be discussing the definition of “art” as determined by escapism, as well as “how our lives seem boring by comparison” to film.

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Faculty Research Spotlight: Dr. Eugene B. Young