CFP: [Graduate] NYU graduate student conference 2008, Comp Lit & Area Studies

full name / name of organization: 
Sage Anderson
contact email:

Age of Comparison?
NYU Graduate Student Conference
Hosted by the departments of Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies,
and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Call for Papers

The common ground of literary and area studies lies in our joint focus on
questions of comparison. At the root of our academic activity is the
characterization of similarity and difference, be it cultural, political,
linguistic or aesthetic. Issues of comparability are visible in shared
anxieties regarding the origins and directions of our disciplines. In our
overlapping pursuit of self-definition we depend on each other for
collaboration and provocation.

In analyzing texts and cultures, our approaches can be seen as
complementary or discordant. What is lost when Area Studies leaves literary
and theoretical work to Comparative Literature? Conversely, is the
political urgency and historical rigor of Area Studies lost in Comparative
Literature? With our conference we aim to foster productive dialogue among
disciplines by together exploring problems of comparison and comparability,
both philosophical and methodological. In theory and practice, we are all
led to compare, to define ourselves in terms of the Other (or to strive
against such definition). What motivates and conditions this desire? How
does it play out in our work?

To these ends, papers should address the following or related questions and

* How has comparison figured in texts at different times and in different
* Does comparative thinking threaten an understanding of the particular?
* How has translation helped us to think comparison?
* Comparison and universal genre: do cross-cultural deep literary
structures exist?
* Comparison as a political activity
* Comparison and nationality: between communication and conflict
* Gender as a comparative issue
* Is there a way to think comparatively without a conception of the “normal”?
* Area Studies: Do we compare?
* What does it mean when literary scholars borrow tools from the natural
and social sciences?
* What role does comparison play in postcolonial literature? In “minor”
* How do critical judgments play into comparative thinking?
* How do models of cosmopolitanism and creolization affect the practice and
theory of comparison?

Papers should be 20 minutes long. Please send abstracts (300 words) with
full name, paper title, and institution to by
January 10th, 2008.

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Received on Mon Nov 12 2007 - 14:49:51 EST

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