On the Uses and Abuses of Theory (for Life)

This piece relates some strategies for creating a generative tension between theory and romanticism in the classroom. Its examples are Badiou's strident critiques of romanticism as the "philosopheme" of historicism and Kant's imbrication of "theory" and "practice." At stake more broadly is the problematic notion of use (and misuse), so common in recent discussions about the humanities: how to "use" literature—which literature, or which theory, and for what ends.