UPDATE: [Graduate] 2009 Columbia University Graduate Conference: "Circulation: Networks, Knowledge and the Literary"

full name / name of organization: 
Paul Wimmer
contact email: 

The French Graduate Student Association of Columbia is pleased to announce
its 18th annual conference,
 â€œCirculation”: Networks, Knowledge and the Literary

In his article “Pouls” for Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedia, Ménuret
de Chambaud propagated circulation as the sine qua non of health. Part of a
project largely defined by its attempt to create a large system of
knowledge and to be propagated to as many as possible, this article,
pivotal in the debate between Cartesians and Mechanists, can in this sense
be said to act as a part mirroring the whole, and exemplifies the
polyvalent utility of the concept of circulation for the literary scholar.
Blood circulation, the creation and role of knowledge networks in the
dissemination of ideas, and the interaction between the eastern and western
worlds are but a few examples of the ramifications of this concept. The
way in which literary texts affect or ought to affect individuals’
relations to one another, be distributed among those individuals, and whom
they ought to reach has fueled rivalries, inflamed tirades and informed
national policy. From before the Aeneid’s celebration of Roman nobility and
valor to Malraux’s Ministry of Culture and beyond, how a literary creation
should circulate has been the business of writers and readers. This year’s
FGSA conference hopes to explore how this business has affected and
continues to affect French or Francophone texts and their study.
         Equally important (and contentious) have been authors’ own attitudes
towards the dissemination of their work, and those works’ representation of
the circulation of ideas. Some texts are intended to behave as viruses on
their audience, circulating throughout the system until passed on to the
next host, as Sade’s unique blend of the erotic and the politically
subversive, while some others seem more predisposed to sustain themselves
within the cerebral frames of a few lecteurs avertis, exemplified by
Mallarmé’s notorious impenetrability. What parameters drive a writer to
seek or shun notoriety and what does the result entail for a text’s posterity?
        Finally, and from the reader’s perspective, how well a text circulates and
its relation to other texts has also been a central literary concern. A
major pillar of literary history (and analysis) has for some time been the
understanding of a text’s contexts and references. Also, how far a text has
traveled and how much it has been commented has often determined its
success or infamy, at least in part. Throughout history theologians have
been equally prompt to tout their scriptures’ ubiquity or esoteric status
as proof of their faiths; likewise, success or failure in globalized
markets plays an ambivalent but significant role in current readers’
evaluation of a text’s integrity or desirability.
We invite graduate students from all disciplines to help us extract some of
the more notable ways in which circulation has placed its stamp upon French
literature. Abstracts of no more than 300 words, submitted electronically
to fgsaconf_at_columbia.edu , with name, email and institutional affiliation,
in French or English and dealing with this topic and within any period of
French and Francophone literary history will be considered until January 9,
2009. Any and all approaches and perspectives, including from other fields
in the humanities, are acceptable, and encouraged.

The conference will take place Friday, March 6 2009.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

Global Exchange:
• Medical/scientific debates, knowledge networks
• Literature and sociology of immigration, travel, and tourism
• Proselytizing, religious tracts
• Spies and espionage
• Public debates/ coffeehouse culture
• Finance: markets, globalization, capital, numismatics
Textual circulation:
• Epistolarity: novels, authors’ and family correspondence
• Journalism: articles, editorials, letters to the public
• Paleography, cryptography, hermeneutics and heraldry
• Translation and orality
• “Disposable” literature: penny novels, sensationalism

Circulation, mutation and recycling
• Co-opting of religion and religious imagery
• Adaptations: cinematographic, theatrical, cultural, translatio
• Rediscovery of the Ancients in the Renaissance
• Intertextuality
• Rumors and gossip

Inhibiting circulation:
• The urban landscape in literature: traffic, banlieue, ghettoization,
• Diaspora literature
• Gifts, manners and etiquette
• Center and periphery, Orientalism
• Royal and elite networks: académies, lycées, musées and salons
• Secret societies, black markets, and banned books
• Circulation of bodies : epidemiology, sexuality
• Heresies and the apocryphal
• Intellectual property rights

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Received on Sun Dec 14 2008 - 12:18:03 EST