Literature as a defining trait of the human umwelt: From and beyond Heidegger


  • Pierre-Louis Patoine Sorbonne Nouvelle University, English Department, 13 rue de Santeuil, 75005 Paris
  • Jonathan Hope Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada), Literature Department, C.P. 8888 succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8



literature, body, habitat, Heidegger, politics


Writers and readers of literature are, among other things, biological en tities that evolve under particular political (geographical/historical) conditions. A comparative study of certain texts by Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) can help us establish a fruitful interpretation of this threefold link between literary art, biology and politics. However, careful analysis reveals that Heidegger remains too rooted in an old-world, nationalistic and anthropocentric paradigm. We will attempt to rethink Heidegger’s assumptions on the grounds that literature, a cultural practice, enables us to delineate our natural environment. By reformulating Heidegger’s line of thought, we can more precisely address the plural structure of our biotic and political-literary experiences.


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How to Cite

Patoine, P.-L., & Hope, J. (2016). Literature as a defining trait of the human umwelt: From and beyond Heidegger. Sign Systems Studies, 44(1/2), 148–163.