Category Archives: Conferences

CFP: BCLA – Unforeseen Consequences (Warwick)

The British Comparative Literature Association Postgraduate Conference, 11 November 2017,  University of Warwick

Unforeseen Consequences: Literatures of Protest and Political Struggle

 Keynote speaker: Dr Oliver Davis (University of Warwick)

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The British Comparative Literature Association invites papers for its annual postgraduate conference to be held at the University of Warwick on 11 November 2017. This conference intends to bring together postgraduate students from across the humanities to discuss questions relating to the impact of literature and the arts, viewed comparatively, on the formation of political discourses and actions of resistance to dominant institutional practices of oppression and control.

The conference takes its que from author Will Self, who has asserted that the United Kingdom currently exists in a state of perpetual ‘unforeseen consequences’ in which the government ‘muddles and meddles,’ creating a sense of ambiguity that disguises serious neglect of human rights and broader social issues.  The conference intends to apply a global focus to this concept and explore literature’s response to times of political struggle, dangerous social policy, and oppressive institutional standards across the historical spectrum. As such we invite papers considering literature’s relation and responses to the following themes:

  • Struggles for political independence
  • Sovereignty and state power
  • Censorship and the surveillance state
  • Institutional control, mass incarceration and indefinite detention
  • Queer politics
  • Migration
  • Colonialism/decolonialism
  • Neoliberalism and its discontents
  • Feminism and intersectionality
  • Brexit, democracy and devolution
  • Literature, digital texts and social media.

Submissions need not be limited to these parameters and we welcome broad and creative interpretations of our theme.

Please send proposals of 250 words with 50 word bio by 23 September 2017 to bclapgrepresentative@gmail.com.

 

 

Writing, the State, and the Rise of Neo-Nationalism (Boston Uni., London)

Writing, the State, and the Rise of Neo-Nationalism: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Concerns, 30th June 2018, Boston University’s London Campus

In January 1868, John William De Forest took to the pages of The Nation with a call that would resound over the next century and a half: the writing of the “Great American Novel.” In so doing, he asserted both the shaping force of the nation on the arts, and the importance of the arts for the national imaginary. On the sesquicentennial of De Forest’s essay, the College of General Studies at Boston University will host a conference to explore the broader intersection of writing and the nation. This conference will meet on Boston University’s campus in London, England, on June 30, 2018. The conference will feature a keynote address by Daniel Karlin, Winterstoke Professor of English at the University of Bristol.

The exigency of ongoing scholarly consideration of the relation between the nation and writing could not be more apparent. The rise of populist and pro-national politicians and events such as Brexit place new strains on the architecture of globalization. A disruptive force, neo-nationalism has provoked anxiety about sustaining existing international institutions and prompted introspection within nations about the abiding ties of community and place.

This conference seeks a diverse range of panels and papers from scholars in literary studies, rhetoric, the social sciences, and other disciplines. Interdisciplinary papers and panels, and papers and panels addressing transatlantic subjects, are especially encouraged. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

• The portrayal of the nation-state in works of literature.
• Representations of the relationships among the local, regional, and (or) global.
• Challenges to, problems with, and affirmations of national belonging.
• Reflections on De Forest’s original essay in light of the past 150 years.
• The impact of socioeconomic changes on the project of a national literature.
• The ways in which technological development can re-inscribe narratives of the political unit.
• International exchanges on the idea of a “great” national literature.
• Consideration of forces that help construct or challenge nation-oriented narratives of literature.
• Characteristics and implications of neo-national oratory.
• Rhetorical analyses of neo-national propaganda.
• The role of national iconography for literary and artistic expression.
• The ways that marginalized populations can preserve or introduce their voices in the context of changes in the global landscape during the neo-national era.
• Reactions to and presentations of neo-nationalism in the arts.

Paper proposals should be 250-300 words in length and should include a brief CV.

Panel proposals should be 300–500 words in length; indicate whether the panel will be traditional, seminar, or roundtable style; and include the names and CVs of participants and working titles of their papers.

Submit all proposals to Christopher K. Coffman (ccoffman@bu.edu) and Thomas Finan (etfinan@bu.edu) no later than November 30, 2017.

CFP: ‘Bad Kind’: The Dark Energy of the Literary System (Amiens)

Interdisciplinary Conference, « Mauvais genre » : l’énergie noire du système littéraire, ‘Bad Kind’: The Dark Energy of the Literary System, Amiens (France), Logis du Roy, 15-17 March 2018

Organisation

The Centre d’Études et de Recherches sur les Contacts Littéraires et Linguistiques (CERCLL, EA 4283), Université de Picardie Jules Verne.

Coordinators: Kevin Perromat (Assoc. Pr.  Latin American Literature)

Georges Bê Duc (Assoc. Pr. Modern Chinese Literature)

Contactmauvaise.litterature@gmail.com

               http://colloque-mauvaiselitterature.blogspot.fr/

Bad literature is damned to oblivion. Focused mostly on valuable texts, our academic knowledge of the literary world is restricted to an extremely exclusive selection among its potential objects of research. Invariably, good taste filters literary materials in spite of its proven versatility in the course of history, and in spite of the instability not only of the canon of ‘great texts’, but also of the institutions in charge of its transmission. Consequently, texts of different sorts are discarded into darkness: failed and amateur works, venal writing, as well as literary forgeries and transgressions such as plagiarism. Bad literature includes most often pulp and popular literature (paraliterature) as well. Nevertheless, what if the rejected ‘bad taste’ was in fact similar to dark energy, which is invisible but probably predominant in the Universe?

The literary space allows a plurality of possibilities of existence, circulation and creation of value which are fundamental to the aims and scope of this conference. In sharp contrast to the well-established monumental landmarks of the High Literature, amorphous masses of neglected, despised or forgotten texts fall into darkness. However, ‘good’ literature seems to depend on the ‘bad kind’, at least as the necessary background –a dark, anonymous and heteroclite one– to exist and be valued. Besides this obvious role in the creation of value, what are the functions of bad literature in the whole economy of the literary system? Concerning our aesthetic criteria, which rely chiefly upon the available literary tradition, to what extent they are not the result of our predecessors’ judgements?

 Suggested Topics

Bad literature

–          ‘Bad genres’: pornography, pulp, teenager literature, best-sellers, chick lit, etc.

–          Historical evolution of offenses and literary transgressions: plagiarism, forgeries, ghost-writers, testament betrayals, etc.

–          Individual case studies: rejected manuscripts, auteurs maudits, epigones, literary folly (fous littéraires), failed texts, minor works…

Bad literature uses

–          Bad literature uses within the strategies developed in the literary field: polemical, critical, rhetorical, ideological, etc.

–          Bad literature uses in literary taste formation and writing learning.

–          Bad literature as caution and boundary of literary norms and standards.

Bad literature values

–          Historiographical gaps and forgotten territories: discourses/ literatures/ authors/ periods vanished, banned, ignored by literary history.

–          (Re)valorisation of bad literature: revision of literary values, (re)discovery and (re)valorisation of ‘literary detritus’, procedures of recovery in literary historiography.

–          Relationships between bad literature, the Canon and the literary institutions.

Abstracts in English or French (up to 500 words) are to be sent to mauvaise.litterature@gmail.com  by September 30th2017.

CFP: (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia & Science Fiction

(Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia & Science Fiction, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, 16 & 17 December 2017 Organised by Monash University and the University of Warwick, funded by the Monash/Warwick Alliance.

About the conference

(Un)Ethical Futures is a two-day interdisciplinary conference exploring the ethical concerns of utopia, dystopia and science fiction. As we find the world in a state of significant social and political uncertainty, representations of more (or less) ethical futures can help us understand the impulses driving society today, and our hopes and fears for the future. The conference will feature keynote addresses, interactive workshops and concurrent panels.

Keynote speakers

Professor Emeritus Andrew Milner (Monash University & University of Warwick) and Associate Professor Jacqueline Dutton (University of Melbourne)

Workshop leaders

Dr Sascha Morrell (Monash University) and Dr Meg Mundell (author of Black Glass & Things I Did for Money)

Call for papers

Deadline: 13 August 2017

The conference will engage with a wide range of disciplines across the humanities, arts, and social sciences, including literary studies, media studies, history, philosophy, and cultural studies. The conference themes also span multiple genres and modes, from science fiction (sf) about the near or distant future, to alternative histories about better or worse presents, to fantastic stories about utopian or dystopian societies. The conference’s focus on ethics allows for a range of topics, including environmental ethics and climate change, human bioethics, animal ethics, the ethical use of technology, ethics of alterity and the ethical treatment of others, as well as related issues of social justice.

Possible areas of engagement include, but are not limited to:

Environmental ethics in speculative climate fiction (“cli-fi”)

Bioethical issues in sf, including biopunk and cyberpunk

The treatment or representation of animals, artificial intelligence, aliens or other posthuman or non-human entities in utopia, dystopia and sf

Historical and literary attempts at creating real or fictional utopian communities

Utopian and dystopian dimensions of Indigenous literature and traditions

Critiques of colonialism, racism, sexism, and institutional abuses in utopia, dystopia and sf

Philosophy, ethics and the utopian impulse

Politics, activism, social justice and ethics in sf and its fan communities

Ethics, alterity and literary form in speculative fiction

We invite the submission of proposals for 20-minute papers. We also welcome proposals for panels (three 20-minute papers) and readings of original creative work, including short fiction and poetry (up to 20 minutes’ duration). Proposals should comprise a title, abstract (200–300 words), and a brief author bio (100 words).

Please submit proposals via email to utopias-conference@monash.edu by 13 August 2017.

Following the conference, convenors will circulate a call for submissions for a special issue of Colloquy: text, theory, critique, which will publish research peer-reviewed articles, as well as creative writing and book reviews, arising from the conference proceedings.

CFP: The American Weird: Ecologies & Geographies (Göttingen)

The American Weird: Ecologies & Geographies, University of Göttingen, April 12-14, 2018, North American Section of the English Department in cooperation with the Institute for English and American Studies of the University of Oldenburg


“The one test of the really weird is simply this—whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers.”
—H.P. Lovecraft, “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (1927)

 “This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.” —David Lynch, Wild at Heart (1990)

For H.P. Lovecraft, the weird conveys “a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.” Taking its cue from Lovecraft’s enduringly influential conceptualization, this conference examines and broadens the notion of weirdness towards an ecology and geography of the weird as a new field of theoretical and practical resonances. What we call The American Weird comprises not only an aesthetics evoked by literary practices or films from the genres of the gothic or horror, but also by other forms of cultural expression, such as music, sculpture, photography, and performance art. The conference theme also aims to address new theoretical perspectives on humanity’s relation to the world, perspectives that have recently been proposed by what might be called the “new demonologists” (e.g. Graham Harman, Eugene Thacker, and others).

Against the backdrop of new ontologies and epistemologies of the weird, the following questions will form the conceptual backbone of The American Weird: What are the ecologies and geographies of the weird today, and how are they conceived, perceived, and reworked? Which strands of contemporary critical theory and philosophy have engaged in a dialogue with the discourses of and on the weird, and what is specifically “American” in The American Weird? If weirdness is more than a mere index of parody and/or subversion, how might one conceive of a politics or an ethics of the weird?

These and related questions on The American Weird will be explored in a three-day conference at the University of Göttingen. Possible topics, which can come from different genres, historical periods, and/or media include, but are not restricted to:

–                American literature from Charles Brockden Brown and Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories to the authors of “the new weird,” like Jeff VanderMeer, China Miéville, and Thomas Ligotti. What are the aspects and intricacies of the literary evolution of the weird in America? What is specifically American about this evolution? What has changed in weird literature since the publication of Lovecraft’s essay on “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” on both a poetic and political level?

–                the sculptural work of artists such as Lydia Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Charles Ray, and others. How does this type of artistic practice negotiate normativities and weirdness? How do the materials, size, and content matter of their art contribute to the way they subvert viewing habits and expectations?

–                the music of The American Weird,  from the musical instruments of Harry Partch, via artists like Tom Waits or Mike Patton, all the way to the tunes of Joanna Newsom and the “New Weird America” or “Freak Folk” movement, and the protagonists of so-called “outsider music” such as Daniel Johnston or Wesley Willis. What exactly is necessary to make music weird or “outsider”? Is it the actual music, the self-presentation of the artists, their perception (or lack thereof), their non-affiliation with the industry?

–                the photography of Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, and others. What are the liminal spaces that open up between the camera’s alleged “reality effect” and evocations of weird America and its “freaks”? How does Sherman challenge notions like subjectivity and objectivity and what effects and affects are contained in her “vomit pictures”?

–                the eco art, land art, or bio art of Robert Smithson, Joe Davis, and others. How do these practices expand the notion of what counts as art, where it begins and ends? What and where are the locales in which it takes place, grows, and decays? Does the participation of plants or bacteria in a dynamic artwork redistribute agencies in the process of creating art and constitute a truly hybrid mode of being beyond the nature-culture divide?

–                the filmic visions of Tod Browning, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and others, as well as recent TV-series that resonate with the aesthetics of the weird, such as True Detective, The Walking Dead, and Stranger Things. How to film the weird? Is there a moving image of American weirdness?

–                the comics and graphic novels of Robert Crumb, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and others. How to picture The American Weird in separate panels and what is specific about this kind of narrating weirdness?

–                the different theoretical approaches which assess the cultural productions of The American Weird, from subcultural discourses to contemporary materialism, ecocriticism, and realism. What is the function of the weird as a concept vis-à-vis notions of the uncanny, the grotesque, the abject, and the carnivalesque? What are the milieus, theories, histories, and practices of The American Weird?

We invite scholars of American studies and related fields such as cultural studies, film and media studies, comparative literature, art history, and philosophy to submit a short abstract (approx. 300 words) and a short bio-statement by August 15, 2017 to the conference organizers Julius Greve (julius.greve@uni-oldenburg.de) and Florian Zappe (florian.zappe@phil.uni-goettingen.de). The conference will take place from April 12-14, 2018 at the University of Göttingen and is organized by the North American Section of the English Department in cooperation with the Institute for English and American Studies of the University of Oldenburg.