Professor of Comparative Literature and English
PhD, Cambridge; MA, BA, UBC
Office: JHB 828
Bio & Research
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 literary and cultural theory, postcolonial literatures, globalization studies, theories of modernity, primitivism, and the intersection of anthropology and literature. 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, Interventions, Parallax, and Prose Studies. Co-editor of The University of Toronto Quarterly, 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 interpretive 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 Levi-Strauss, Alice Becker-Ho (the widow of Guy Debord), and the Anglo-Irish novelist J. G. Farrell.
Research interests include: Contemporary critical theory; postcolonial theory and fiction; globalization studies; neo-primitivism; anthropological theories of alterity; the writings of Giorgio Agamben.