Mimesis and Mutation

deadline for submissions: 
March 12, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Berkeley-Stanford English Graduate Conference 2018

Date: April 20th, UC Berkeley

Please submit abstracts of 200­-300 words, with a short bio, to berkeleystanford2018@gmail.com by MARCH 12th, 2018

Keynote 1: Steven Goldsmith, Professor (UC Berkeley, English)
Keynote 2: TBA (Stanford, English)

Considering such recent work as Fredric Jameson’s The Antinomies of Realism and Jacques Rancière’s “Auerbach and the Contradictions of Realism” alongside evaluations of the practical limits of critique as such, it is clear that certain problems are foundational to our current sense of “the real”. In response to a renewed interest in the character and stakes of realism, this conference will mobilize the concept of mimesis in order to re­evaluate reality and representation. What resources might literary representation and expression afford us within and beyond our understandings of mimesis, in addressing the problem of the real?

We encounter a material reality through our processes of representational mirroring, but how are such ‘images’ of reality constructed, and what is at stake in a distinction between the immediate experience of life and its representation? Does the mimetic impulse require an act of translation or interpretation, or does this over­determine a distinction between internal and external? How might we rehabilitate our conception of realism in a world in which it may be impossible to distinguish between the real and the counterfeit? How does mimesis mediate between the social­historical and the individual, the biological and the virtual? How does literary mimesis relate to or deviate from scientific models of mind and world?

Our interest in mimesis in the domain of the literary extends beyond the prompts enumerated above. Has the concept of mimesis become anachronistic – or is it precisely that which allows us to transcend such discretely defined and self­contained units of ‘the historical?’ In this spirit, we call for papers that contribute to a dialogue on any (or all) of the following topics:

● Mimetic or realistic poetics
● Mediation, indexicality, symbols
● The detail, the particular, the anecdote
● Old and new materialisms
● Psychoanalytic models of the real; the uncanny
● Similarity and difference, repetition
● Empiricism; objectivity and the matter­-of-­fact
● The ‘visual’ or visible
● Representations of capital; work and abstraction
● Historical continuity; uniformity and rupture
● Animal mimicry, biosemiotics, and camouflage
● Glitches, asynchronicity, local transcendence
● Mutation and aesthetic ugliness