Response and Commentary (Sara Guyer, Marc Redfield and Emily Sun)

Eva Geulen’s response to the essays included in this volume contends that all three essays more or less explicitly defend romanticism “from any biopolitical charges and suspicions” by calling on the literary aesthetic, a move she takes as an indication that what is at stake is not so much biopolitics as it is “aesthetics by way of biopolitics.” Rather than opening up new lines of inquiry, the appearance of theoretical accounts of biopolitics provides the occasion to redraw, however contingently, the lines defending the literary aesthetic. Geulen’s discussion turns to and remains focused on Agamben’s account of sovereignty and bare life. In her reading, the concept of sovereignty provides an opening onto the relation of biopolitics and literature. Yet contrary to the readings offered by Guyer, Redfield, and Sun, Geulen suggests that aesthetics does not as much mark an aesthetic resistance to biopolitics as it paradoxically participates in and furthers biopolitical violence. Geulen argues that merely identifying and recognizing moments of textual ambivalence and rhetorical undecidability does little to resist, let alone change, the effectivity of the biopolitical structure.