Taylor Eggan

Assistant Professor

MA + PhD in English, Princeton University
BA in English, Carleton College

I am a comparative literature scholar with broad interests in African literature and culture (Anglophone, Francophone, Swahilophone), post- and decolonial theory, environmental philosophy, phenomenology, and translation. At PNCA I teach a range of courses in critical theory and creative research across the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies.

Though rooted in the close study of literary texts, my research projects are multidisciplinary in nature and seek to understand the myriad ways literature enriches, complicates, and otherwise intervenes in our understanding the relation between the self and the world. The role of reading as an affective and phenomenological practice currently stands at the center of my thinking.

My first book is Unsettling Nature: Ecology, Phenomenology, and the Settler Colonial Imagination (University of Virginia Press, 2021). Throughout this work I draw on research in philosophy and the environmental humanities in an attempt to unsettle the logic of coloniality that underlies narratives of ecological homecoming as well as narratives of settler-colonial homemaking. The book includes chapters on Martin Heidegger, Willa Cather, D. H. Lawrence. C. M. van den Heever, Olive Schreiner, Doris Lessing, and J. M. Coetzee.

I am currently working on two new book projects. The first is tentatively titled Exo-Phenomenology, and pursues various literary, philosophical, and somatic forays into speculative perception. As the prefix “exo-“ suggests, exo-phenomenology is a phenomenology of the outside; it pushes beyond the boundaries of ordinary perception to explore the social, political, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions of engaging with alien phenomena and other othernesses.

The second book project, tentatively titled The Novel and Transcendence, examines how the institution of the novel, so often associated with realism and immanent worldliness, is in fact better understood as being formally oriented toward transcendence. At the center of this second project is a reconsideration of novelistic character in terms of personhood rather than subjectivity.

In addition to my scholarship, I am also a practicing artist. As a dancer and performance maker, my artistic practice integrates improvisational investigation, virtuosic movement, and wide-ranging research. Recent work includes Abominable (2017) an evening-length work of dance theater exploring the (self-)destructive logic of heroic consciousness. I also worked as a dramaturg for Suniti Dernovsek’s performance work All right, now what (2017).

Although currently stymied by the pandemic, I am currently imagining a new performance work to be called Extinction Mass. As I imagine it, this project revives for the new millennium the medieval tradition of performing masses for the end of the world. The Extinction Mass functions as a public forum and ritual practice for processing collective grief about the many human and other-than-human worlds already in the process of ending.

For more information please visit my website, The Exploded View, where I also publish essays on world literature in translation.