Dr. Jan Plug

Creative Uncertainty

Dr. Jan Plug, Associate Professor in the Department of English and part of Western’s Theory and Criticism faculty, smiles quixotically when asked about his current research. “Derrida said, ‘If I knew where I was going, I wouldn’t be able to take a single step.’ I have much the same feeling—whenever I start new research, I never fully know where I’m going with it. I like the sense of creative uncertainty.”

Dr. Plug has a strong interest in anxiety. “I think that’s why I like to teach a course on anxiety at the Centre—from Kierkegaard to the present. Who hasn’t felt anxiety? Most people see it as negative, but my approach to it is that whenever something unusual or troubling happens, it has the potential to open up new areas and new opportunities. If we knew where we were headed, would there be much point in going there?”

plug-2.jpgDr. Plug finds that his work is continually enlivened by theory. “I don’t think I could do the things I do and teach the things I teach if I were not part of the Theory Centre. Whatever text I am reading, perhaps every work raises theoretical questions in some sense, and for me the most provocative ones remain those that are evoked by the deconstructive tradition.”

Dr. Plug also plans to teach a course in the Department of English in 2014 on Theory and Romanticism. “I began as a Romanticist, and I’m looking forward to returning to Romanticism and the theory that has emerged from it.” He is currently working on a book-length study entitled They Have All Been Healed: Walser, Benjamin, Agamben, Sebald, and the Brothers Quay. A previous book, Borders of a Lip: Romanticism, History, Politics, Language was published by SUNY Press.