CFP: [Graduate] About Face: Depicting the Self in the Written and Visual Arts (February 29âMarch 1, 2008)

full name / name of organization: 
Paola Ugolini
contact email:

Call for papers
New York University
February 29–March 1, 2008

About Face: Depicting the Self in the Written and Visual Arts

Prosopopeia is the trope of autobiography, by which one’s name . . . is made as intelligible and
memorable as a face.
PAUL DE MAN, Autobiography as De-facement

I approach the self not as an entity but as an activity, a continual process that gives rise to
concepts by which an
individual both distinguishes herself from others . . . and situates herself in relation to these
JENIJOY LA BELLE, Herself Beheld

The Department of Italian Studies at New York University is organizing a graduate student
conference to take place on Friday,
February 29, 2008, and Saturday, March 1, 2008 at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. This
conference will explore the
multifaceted nature of self-representation in relation to Italian culture over the ages—its many
and various forms and
formations, its personal, socio-cultural, and political relevance—with reference to the concepts
and questions raised in the
detailed discussion below (see also the attached information) along with any others that may be

Graduate students are invited to participate in the conference and to present their work on self-
representation in relation to
Italian culture. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged, as well as work addressing topics relevant to
multiple time periods.

• relations between the author/artist and the work; relations between the author/artist and the
• modalities, semiotics, genre/style, trope (allegory, diary, memoir, epistle, confession,
absolution, witness, testimony,
• aesthetics and history, evolution of the genre/style
• relation between the work and the “original,” the ideal or the natural body: faithfulness,
reliability, choices
• creation/destruction; formation/deformation; recognition/misrecognition
• gender and sexuality, femininity and masculinity, cross-dressing and cross-gendering
• the alter ego or double; the signature, the name, naming
• mirrors and mirroring, circling of the gaze, interiority and exteriority
• revealing and concealing, visibility and transparency, (un)clothing and cloaking
• space and objects, fetishism and catachresis (the studiolo, memorabilia, “collectomania”)
• memory, retrospect, death: the death mask, the epitaph

Presentations are allotted 20 minutes with additional time for question and response. Please
submit an anonymous abstract of
no more than 250 words by December 31, 2007. All abstracts must be in English or Italian and
should include a cover letter with
the title, author’s name, university affiliation, telephone number, and e-mail address.

Please send abstracts to the conference organizers: Elena Bellina, Lindsay Eufusia, and Paola
Ugolini at

About Face: Depicting the Self in the Written and Visual Arts
Representation of the self is a process which often corresponds to a concrete form, generally
written—autobiography—or visual
—self-portraiture. Because the represented self is negotiated through a process of selection and
choice, in many ways to
represent the self is to create the self and negate the self. By De Man’s understanding,
representing the self is “the giving and
taking away of faces, . . . face and deface, figure, figuration and disfiguration. . . . [It]

deprives and disfigures to the precise
extent that it restores.” What, then, becomes of the self in and through its representation?
Because the process of self-representation cumulates in a tangible result and given that any
representation of the self is
necessarily a construct which aims to render visible or knowable in concrete form the unseen and
unknown, self-representation
is vulnerable to assessments of its naturalness or artificiality, its honesty or deceit. Many issues
affect the author or artist’s
self-representation, both as process and form: the medium through which the self will be
represented, the motivation for
representing oneself, and the role of the audience, to name only a few relevant factors.

This conference is cosponsored by: the Italian Graduate Student Association, the Casa Italiana
Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dean’s
Office of the Graduate School of Arts and Science of of New York University.

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Received on Tue Oct 16 2007 - 22:08:39 EDT

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