Dr. des. Eva Heubach
Postdoctoral Fellow of the Faculty of Arts & Science

Research Interests:

  • Genre Theory
  • Theories of the Novel
  • Theories of Comedy and Tragedy
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Dante Alighieri
  • Hegelian Aesthetics
  • Critical Theory (esp. Georg Lukács and Theodor Adorno)
  • Psychoanalysis

Eva Heubach is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Comparative Literature. She studied Theatre Studies, Romance Studies, and Comparative Literature in Paris and Berlin. Before coming to Toronto, Eva was a Fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School for Literary Studies at Free University Berlin, a Visiting Assistant in Research at Yale’s German Department, and an Associate Member of the Ph.D. Network “Das Wissen der Literatur” at Humboldt-University Berlin.

Eva obtained her Ph.D. from Humboldt-University Berlin (2022) with a dissertation on questions of realism and the novel in Beckett, Lukács, Adorno, and ultimately Hegel and she is currently revising the manuscript of this study for publication. She is the editor of a volume entitled Beckett and Dialectics, published with Bloomsbury Academic (2021).

The question of a reevaluation of the dialectic through the lens of the literary is also what is at the center of Eva’s postdoctoral project at the University of Toronto. It proceeds from the observation that readers of Hegel have never been able to avoid describing his dialectic – and thereby dialectics tout court – in terms of either tragedy or comedy. The project approaches this ostensibly forced choice from an innovative starting point, in that I highlight its thus far unexposed connection to Dante. As many commentators have noted, with Dante’s Divine Comedy, we are confronted with a text that is itself, in its very form, determined by an astonishing reversal from tragedy to comedy: While Dante originally conceived his opus magnum as a tragedy, he surprisingly decided to transform it into a comedy, as evidenced by its famous incipit and title. The project takes this Dantean “categorical revolution” (Agamben) seriously, in that it explains it not merely in terms of the classical separation of styles, but rather demonstrates how, through its literary composition, Dante’s text is able to illustrate and illuminate the exact reversal in question – since it does not speak from the perspective of tragedy, nor that of comedy, but from neither, that is, from the perspective of the reversal itself. In a subsequent step, the project brings the results from its reading of Dante to fruition for a novel examination of the Hegelian Aesthetics. It shows how Hegel’s various engagements with Dante offer a key to an innovative understanding of the transformative reversals structuring his philosophy of art. The project thus reveals how Hegel’s Aesthetics can be read not only through Dante’s eyes but as itself being a Divine Comedy, constantly re-thematizing the link between tragedy and comedy, which, in turn, allows for a reassessment of the Hegelian dialectical enterprise as such. Moreover, it will become apparent that the comic and the tragic, and thus two categories in which modernity, from its beginning onward, has envisioned and represented its most profound ethico-practical conflicts, may have their repressed origin in this medieval Dantean “categorical revolution.”

Ph.D. Comparative Literature, Humboldt University Berlin
M.A. Comparative Literature, Free University Berlin
B.A. Romance Studies, Free University Berlin

Mahité Breton

Research Interests
20th and 21st century French philosophy
20th and 21st century literature, especially the work of Clarice Lispector
Writing in literature and philosophy
Spirituality and literature
Deconstruction of Christianity
The work of Ivan Illich

Mahité Breton is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Comparative Literature under the supervison of Professor John Paul Ricco. Her current research focuses on Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star and how its mise en scène of a gesture of writing by ear presents a unique way to attune to mere existence—both in the sense of the very minimal fact of existing, and in the sense of the many existences that are deemed too simple to be worth telling about. This project explores in depth the multiple resonances and the ethical potential of the gesture of writing by ear, using Jean-Luc Nancy’s work on nakedness, writing and listening as a counterpoint that opens further insights. It also turns to Lispector’s short fictions to examine how her peculiar prose exposes the oscillation of mere existence as it beats right at institutional structures and forms (such as the family, for example) and is their own constant undoing.

Mahité Breton also co-organized with Professor Ricco a symposium on Women & Sex & Talk held at the Centre in February 2020.

As part of a public-facing engagement, she gives a series of conferences that invite participants to explore, through a combination of lectures and exercises, different writing gestures, emphasizing both their creative and ethical potential. Each conference uses a literary or philosophical work (such as Jean-Luc Nancy’s “L’excrit” or Marguerite Duras’s Écrire) as a writing manual, putting into practice what it says about writing.

She obtained her PhD from University of Montreal with a dissertation on the thought of Ivan Illich. Before coming to Toronto, she was a Gérard-Dion fellow in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences in Université Laval, with a research project on Jean-Luc Nancy’s deconstruction of Christianity.