Department of English

University of Toronto

Li, Victor

Victor Li Victor Li
Associate Professor; Graduate Faculty; Undergraduate Instructor (UTSG) 
Faculty Bookshelf
Office Hours and/or Leave Status: by appointment

B.A., M.A. (British Columbia), Ph.D. (Cambridge)

Victor Li currently teaches courses in contemporary and postcolonial literature and theory in both the English Department and the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. His research interests include contemporary literary and cultural theory, postcolonial literatures, globalization studies, theories of modernity, primitivism, the intersection of anthropology and literature, and the work of Giorgio Agamben. His interest in interdisciplinary and comparative work is evident in his book The Neo-Primitivist Turn: Critical Reflections on Alterity, Culture, and Modernity (2006). The book argues that in many contemporary theoretical discourses primitivism has been ushered out the front door so that it can be surreptitiously smuggled in again through the back. The ubiquity of neo-primitivism, its ability to mutate and survive even as it is rigorously questioned, is reflected in the book’s analysis of different theorists from different disciplines (continental philosophy, literary and cultural studies, anthropology, and critical theory). Some of the theorists discussed in the book include Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Marianna Torgovnick, Marshall Sahlins, and Jürgen Habermas. He has also published articles in journals such as ARIEL, boundary 2, Criticism, CR: The New Centennial Review, Cultural Critique, English Studies in Canada, Genre, Globalizations, Interventions, Parallax, and Prose Studies. Editor of The University of Toronto Quarterly (2008-2016) he is also on the editorial advisory boards of CR: The New Centennial Review and The Journal of Postcolonial Writing. His current research project, “Making the World Disappear: Globalization as Allegory,” is a critical study of the representational and interpretative foundations of globalization discourses. He gave a plenary talk based on this project at the annual meeting of CACLALS (Canadian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies) at Congress 2011. Another current project is a triptych of articles on the relatively unexplored links between the work of Giorgio Agamben and that of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Alice Becker-Ho (the widow of Guy Debord), and the Anglo-Irish novelist J. G. Farrell.

Selected Recent Publications:
Faculty Bookshelf

“‘Haunted by the Aboriginal’: Theory and its Other.” In Anthropology and Alterity: Responding to the Other. Ed. Bernhard Leistle. New York: Routledge (forthcoming).

"Giorgio Agamben, J. G. Farrell's The Singapore Grip, and the Colonial Dispositif," Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 3.3 (2016), 361-378.

"The Untimely in Globalization's Time: Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis," Globalizations 13.3 (2016), 256-269.

"Towards an Inoperative Civilization," ARIEL 45.3 (2014), 3-31.

“Primitivism and Postcolonial Literature.” The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature vol. 2. Ed. Ato Quayson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp.982-1005.

“Globalization’s Robinsonade: Cast Away and Neo-liberal Subject Formation.” Rerouting the Postcolonial: New Directions for the New Millenium. Eds. Janet Wilson et al. London: Routledge, 2010. Pp. 60-71.

“Necroidealism, or the Subaltern’s Sacrificial Death.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 11.3 (2009), 275-292.

“A Necessary Vigilance: A Response to Torgovnick and Kuper.” Criticism 49.4 (2007; published in 2008), 557-563. Special issue: “After the Cultural Turn.” (Non-refereed review forum on my book, The Neo-Primitivist Turn: Critical Reflections on Alterity, Culture, and Modernity, with reviews by Marianna Torgovnick and Adam Kuper together with my response to their reviews).

“Elliptical Interruptions: Or, Why Derrida Prefers Mondialisation to Globalization.” CR: The New Centennial Review 7:2 (2007), 141-154. Special issue: “Remainders: Of Jacques Derrida.”

The Neo-Primitivist Turn: Critical Reflections on Alterity, Culture, and Modernity. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.

“Violence and Irony in Habermas’s Verständigung Thesis.” Phrasis: Studies in Language and Literature 47.1 (2006; published in 2007). 89-106. Special issue: “Literature and the Metonymics of Law.” 

“Edward Said’s Untidiness.” Postcolonial Text 1.1 (2004). 
“What’s in a name? Questioning Globalization.” Cultural Critique 45 (2000), 1-39.

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