CFP: [General] Otherness and the Arts

full name / name of organization: 
Maria Beville
contact email:

Otherness and the Arts:
Global Conference on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Otherness in
Literature, Film, and Culture.

A Joint Venture between the University of Aarhus and Mary Immaculate
College, University of Limerick. August 8-9 2008

CFP deadline: May 15th 2008
Location: Aarhus University, Denmark.

“Nobody – that’s my name”
– Homer, The Odyssey, VIIII

The Delphic injunction to know thyself, to understand oneself as self,
entails alienating self-reflection and the awareness that the limits of
any entity, hence its individuation, are determined by what lies outside
these borders – otherness. But where is this division between the I and
other located? How is this schism constructed? Or can this schism even be
discerned? Instead, the injunction of the Arts articulates an inverse yet
more immediate approach to the problem of knowing thyself. It entails an
understanding of oneself as other: the boundary between “I” and “that
which I am not,” necessary for our constitution as subjects, dissolves in
our Homeric hero’s proclamation “Nobody – that’s my name.”

Invited keynote speakers:
• Luce Irigaray (to be confirmed)
• Thomas Hylland Eriksen, University of Oslo
• Svend Erik Larsen, University of Aarhus
• Eugene O’Brien, University of Limerick
• Ann McCulloch, Deakin University

Author, Tabish Khair will read from his work.

Procedure for submitting proposals for papers
The conference is open to scholars and students of all disciplines. Those
wishing to participate in the conference are invited to submit an
abstract of no more than 300 words to by
Thursday, 15 May, 2008. The convenors will let the proponents know
whether their proposals have been accepted no later than 15 June, 2008.
Papers may be given in English with citations in any language, and are
limited to 20 minutes.

Selected papers will be eligible for publication in a peer reviewed
academic journal.

See our website at for more information.
All questions regarding conference content (abstracts, presentations,
speakers etc.) may be directed to the convenors at

Conference Committee:
University of Aarhus Mary Immaculate College
Susan Yi Sencindiver, Ph.D. scholar Maria Beville, Ph.D. scholar
Marie Lauritzen, Ph.D. scholar Dr. Maeve Tynan
Rebecca Parbo, Ph.D. scholar
Peter Mortensen, associate professor, Ph.D

We invite papers and speakers across a broad spectrum of interests which
might connect with the following ideas:

Otherness and fear are two concepts that offer an intriguing dynamic of
cause and effect: the ‘otherness’ approached in the experience of fear
almost acts as a mirror of both personal and public anxiety or terror of
the other. In consequence, representations of ‘otherness’ are all too
often dark and fearful, dominated by hesitation and repression. In much
art and literature, shadows of the other abound, haunting the
disillusioned subject with reminders of a dark and unrepresentable object
(‘absolute otherness’ or ‘the real’) that is so intrinsic to

What specific role does the other play in the formation of
normative/deviant subjectivity? As speaking subjects constituted through
processes of signification, the otherness of our subjectivity becomes
most profoundly known when the ineffable other of psychic disorder
disrupts our sense of internal coherence and linguistic transparency: as
speaking subjects, we are thus faced with painful paradoxes of needing
to, but being incapable of, voicing the intense subjectivity inherent in
experiences of inexpressible mental suffering. Painfully located beyond
the realm of signification, the otherness of pain and psychopathology is
characteristically circumnavigated as a consequence of sanity's
supposed 'sameness' promoted by Western ideals; however, it is always
already resonating in the lacunae among articulations of the wounded

Figures of otherness do not only form a part of our contemporary
literature, art, and critical theory but also of dominating Western
political rhetoric. The ‘othering’ of vast numbers of the world’s
population by European colonial thought depended on the construction of a
series of binary oppositions. Colonial discourses conceived of the
alterity of the non-European subject in terms of terror or deficiency, a
figure that provided the threat of both similarity and difference. The
colonised land offered a consequence free site for European
transgression, an unleashing of an unfamiliar self/other from the bounds
of civilisation, a doorway into a heart of darkness. How can we ethically
relate to, represent, and narrate the inaudible voices of the subaltern,
concrete marginalized others embedded in the materiality of everyday
existence, if the absolute other is inevitably translated into a relative
or relational other within the economy of the self-same? Similarly, when
otherness is seen through a gendered lens, how is it possible to
undermine self-enclosed signifying systems that exclude feminine identity
and disavow sexual difference? Can the other be known without recourse to
the self? Is it possible to distinguish other-than-self from the other
defined by and for itself, as well as otherness qua construct from
otherness qua ontological category?

In our rapidly changing world, dominated by communication technology, we
are ever faced with encounters with ‘other’ cultures and arts.
Nonetheless, we continue to erect and enforce borders and boundaries
between peoples and countries. As a natural course of conflict, this
complicates relations to and understandings of cultural others and
otherness; thus, it compels exigent discussion. When the world is
simultaneously increasing and decreasing in time and space, creating a
world increscently global yet local, uniform yet diversified, which
brings into relief the vexed politics of ‘othering’ and ‘saming’, how
does one navigate and negotiate cultural identity? In this context, how
does the self and the same coexist with the other in an at times
estranged and estranging transcultural urban milieu?

It is precisely this variety of formulations, the polysemy of alterity,
which this conference wishes to examine from divergent disciplinary and
theoretical perspectives. Its aim, therefore, is to convene on the notion
of Otherness as a site for critical, socio-political, cultural, and
literary exploration.

Welcome topics include but are not limited to the following:

Otherness in Cultural Representation
Hybridity, Creolization, and the Global other
Memory, History, Trauma, and Otherness
Ethics, Responsibility, and the Other
Sexuality, Gender, the Body and the Other
M/other / Sm/other: Engendering Otherness
Ambivalence and Otherness: Mimicry & Menace
Absolute Otherness vs. Self-Same Other
Monstrosity, Spectrality and Terror of the Other
Uncanny or Abject Others; or The Familiar Other
The Sublime or the Unimaginable Other
Malignant Otherness: Madness/Sadness
Healing Otherness: Sanity & Suffering
Pathography: Voicing the Otherness of Pain

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