CFP: [General] 17th Annual English and American Literature Association Conference: Literature and

full name / name of organization: 
Willis Liao
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                            Call for Papers
17th Annual English and American Literature Association Conference
               Conference Theme: Literature and Senses

Host: Taiwan’s English and American Literature Association,
Department of English, Soochow University
Venue: Soochow University (Waishuanghsi Campus), Taipei, Taiwan
Date: November 14, 2009

  The sensate life is put high on the moral and philosophical agenda by the
discourse of aesthetics germinating in the 18th century, but it is
definitely not the first time the terrain of human sensation is explored by
literary representations. The civilizing task of self-fashioning carried
out in the English Renaissance is to subject the unmanageable sensate life
to rigorous regimentation. In the 18th century, Alexander Baumgarten
introduces the discourse of aesthetics and accords sensibility the
preeminence that has long been monopolized by reason. Thereafter, sensory
experience is politicized, either re-functioning as the weaponry for
challenging despotism or being closely monitored as the favored target of
discipline and punishment. Following in the footsteps of Baumgarten, David
Hume also places considerable emphasis on impressions and sensations, the
observation of which provides much of the framework for his interpretation
of affections such as friendship, compassion, and jealousy. Much in the
line of Hume, Kant establishes the precedence the experience of the
beautiful may take over the cognitive process. For a Romantic parallel to
Kantian aesthetics, we might look to John Keats, whose “negative
capability” accentuates the “uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts” that precede
and remain opaque to “fact and reason.” Thus, the semantic ambiguity and
nonsense expressions characteristic of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are
often considered instrumental in enhancing aesthetic experience. Edgar
Allan Poe’s poetics can never be fully appreciated apart from the
aforementioned split between sense and sensibility. The “true poetic
emotion” he reiterates is attributable not so much to intellectual
sophistication as to sensuous subtleties. In modern and contemporary
literature, sensory experience is now thought of as the gateway to cultural
memory, now found going through unprecedented mutations and transformations
at the moment when transnational flow is at an all-time high.
  Sensory experience is closely bound up with modernity, aesthetics,
politics, and literary representations. The above observations are offered
to prompt extended discussion. This conference solicits proposals dealing
with the complicated relationship between senses and literature through a
broad spectrum of perspectives. Suggested topics include, but are not
limited to, the following:

1. aesthetics and sensory experience
2. sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch in literature
3. tourism and sightseeing
4. food culture
5. body, affect, and intensity
6. sensory experience and modernity
7. sensory experience and cultural memory
8. cultivation of the senses and care of the self
9. senses and cultural taboos

Prospective contributors should send the title of the proposed paper,
500-800 word abstract, and a brief CV (containing name, academic
experience, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, postal address, and
telephone number) as an e-mail attachment to Department of English, Soochow
University at It is anticipated that the main focus
will be on English and American literature, and the paper should be no
longer than 20 pages. Enquiries and questions may be directed to Willis
Liao (, 886-2-28829471, ext. 6486)

Submission deadline for abstracts: March 22, 2009
Notification of accepted abstracts: by April 15, 2009
Submission deadline for full papers: October 15, 2009

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Received on Tue Feb 10 2009 - 21:37:58 EST

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