ACLA 2018 Seminar: Global Violence

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Adam Meehan, Palomar College / Pete Figler, University of Arizona
contact email: 

This call is for a seminar to be held at the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Convention, March 29-April 1, 2018 on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Recent studies are conflicted with respect to quantifying global violence. In ways, and on a protracted historical scale, global violence has gradually lessened. And yet, with the rise of mass media and its accompanying visibility of violence, this downward trend might not seem evident. And while positive outlooks like Stephen Pinker’s 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined suggest reasons for optimism, other indicators like the 2016 Global Peace Index show that levels of global conflict are on the rise. One thing that both conflicting data and media coverage emphasize is the relative impossibility of untangling perception from reality. The rise of Donald Trump and the accompanying so-called “Trump Effect,” for instance, have shown that what individuals feel and perceive can prove more powerful than any data. Contrary to conventional wisdom privileging the role of physical violence and trauma, evidence in disciplines ranging from sociology to neuroscience suggests that psychological and affective/emotional violences are as just as deleterious, and often more so.

With these contexts in mind, this seminar seeks to explore the intersectionality of artistic, theoretical, and media responses to violence by pursuing questions in the vein of the following:

What does it feel like to experience violence or the threat of violence? How does this affective response manifest in the lived experiences of subjects?

How do perceptions of violence vary/evolve over time and across different geographical spaces? How do these spaces, as zones of inclusion/exclusion, permit the conditions of possibility for violence to propagate or potentially dissipate?

What role can/do artists, philosophers, and the media play in preempting and/or responding to violence? Under what conditions or strategies might “everyday” citizens be brought into the critical conversation?

Please submit a 250-300 proposal and brief bio through the ACLA online portal by 9AM EST on September 21, 2017 at the following link:

For questions please contact Adam Meehan at or Pete Figler at