“The Overcoat” by N. Gogol and “Bartleby, the Scrivener: a Story of Wall Street” (1853) by H. Melville were published with a time difference of only ten years, but at the opposite ends of the world. The first story takes place in St. Petersburg, the capital of a still feudal Empire, with peasants tied to the land and an aristocracy that had turned into a rigid bureaucracy at the service of the tsarist State; the second story takes place at the financial heart of a capitalist giant with an imperialistic vocation, in a country that is already splitting into high, middle and low classes, which are represented in the story by the deceased John Jacob Astor, by the Lawyer-narrator and by his employees at the office. However, in spite of the geographical distance and the diverse socioeconomic contexts, both stories present many similarities. Desire, to begin with, subverts in both stories the established order, and, in this sense, it is profoundly political. In both, the aforementioned order is portrayed as alienating and it produces split, schizofrenic and dissatisfied creatures badly suited for the working conditions they are subjected to. Besides, both main characters are scriveners and both, sooner or later, question in their own way the conditions that oppress them. The work-shop will be dedicated to the analysis and contrast of the abovementioned concepts: desire, established order, alienation, copy, questioning and subversion.
The coordinator will play the role of facilitator in order to elicit from participants their own criticism of the novels. The analysis of the stories will be, therefore, carried out not only through dialogue with the participants, but by the implementation of group-work, whose conclusions will be debated later with the whole class. Since most of the participants will be teachers, the seminar will include the discussion of tasks for the classroom. At the same time, attendees will be permanently encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and share their expectations of how the activities would work out with their own students.
Deleuze, Gilles (1996) “Bartleby o la fórmula”. En Crítica y clínica. Barcelona: Anagrama.
Eichenbaum, Boris (1999) “Cómo está hecho El capote de Gógol” en Jakobson, R. et al Teoría de la literatura de los formalistas rusos. Madrid: Siglo XXI.
Foucault, Michel (1982) “The Subject and Power”. En Critical Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 4. (Summer), pp. 777-795. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Diponible en
Kuebrich, David, “Melville’s Doctrine of Assumptions: The Hidden Ideology of Capitalist Production in ‘Bartleby’”. En The New England Quarterly, Vol. 69, No 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 381-405. The New England Quarterly, Inc.
Gogol, N. “The Overcoat”. Disponible en http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Over.shtml
López Arriazu, Eugenio (2019) “Política y deseo en ‘El capote’ de N. Gógol y en ‘Bartleby’ de H. Melville”. En Ensayos eslavos. Poesía, teatro, narrativa. Buenos Aires: Dedalus Editores.
Melville, Herman (1984) “Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street”. En Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories. New York: Bantam Books.
Гоголь, Николай Н. (1975) «Шинель». Повести. Пьесы. Мертвые души. Москва: Издательство «Художественная литература». [Gógol, Nicolái N. “El capote”. En Relatos. Piezas. Almas muertas. Moscú: Editorial “Judozhestvienaia literatura].