CFP: [Graduate] VERNAL TEMPORALITIES: IMAGINING THE NEW IN LITERATURE

full name / name of organization: 
Mark Patkowski
contact email: 
mpatkowski@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Brooklyn College Graduate English Conference
Saturday 3 May, 2008
Brooklyn College, CUNY
Brooklyn, New York

Guest Speaker: Michael Stone-Richards, Department of Liberal Studies
                        College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI

Michael Stone-Richards has published widely in French and English on
Surrealism, Blanchot, Debord, and the critical theory of the avant-garde.
He is presently preparing two book manuscripts, Commentaries on Theresa
Hak Kyung Cha, and Logics of Separation on American poetics and critical
theory (Ellison, DuBois, Fanon, Prynne and Stevens, among others). Stone-
Richards is also a founding member of the Program Committee of the Museum
of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) where he is co-curator of Rei
Wawakubo’s current show, “ReFusing Fashion,” an exhibition of avant-garde
clothing from her fashion house, Comme des Garçons.

Concerning his talk, Professor Stone-Richards states: “Almost certainly I
shd. give a talk that reflects upon Prynne and Breton. A working title
would be: "Un nouveau temps du verbe être [ a new time/tense for the verb
to be]: Surrealist nature and the time of the subject in Prynne. I
understand that Andre Breton, chief progenitor of Surrealism, and the
contemporary English poet J.H. Prynne will be more foreign (the latter
especially) to most of the students than say Proust and Wordsworth, and
therefore I would like to suggest the possibility of posting a little
background info (including critical-bio, links, short biblio) about
each.” (The Brooklyn College Graduate English program will be delighted
to follow this suggestion).

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The vernal, the new and the imagination all evoke human experience of,
and human potential for, creation in the world. Spring is the time of
organic bloomage, of youthfulness and the bucolic, when Nature’s growth
is sudden and often praised; Chaucer famously writes:
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour.

Beyond the myriad of literary allusions to the matter and spirit of
spring, we may find broader topics and issues at stake; how the concepts
of fecundity and creation, the earth and the artist, correspond to the
history of literature in English and its criticism. We hope to gather
papers that suggest a correlation between the vernal, the imagination,
and the new. Papers might question processes of change that push
literature forward against stagnation and toward different (though
certainly not always new) modes of meaning and discourse, often in
response to concurrent shifts in social environment. They may also
question the historically and culturally various ways Spring became
important to authors as a season and a symbol for newness. Furthermore,
how does literary history function with respect to originality? How does
one register the historical gradations of change in literary traditions,
those genealogies of critical and theoretical weight? How does the
canonization of works necessarily provide for alternative traditions
whose progenitors seek to promote the new against aesthetic entropy? How
does vernality relate to human awareness of rebirth and renewal, and how
might it concur with thoughts about human mortality, transcendence,
and/or the infinite? Additionally, does “literature” only designate
imaginative literature? Can we speak about the role of the imagination
and the new in criticism and theory? What do we make of literary works
that seem to revoke the conventional relationship between the vernal and
the creative? We seek questioning of how vernal temporalities might lead
us toward disclosing mechanical and mystical forms of literary newness or
originality, as in the various poetics of imitation and tradition,
aversion to and relinquishment of previous literatures; and how the inter-
influence of the imagination and the world may contribute to our
understanding of the literary response to Nature.

Paper topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

Ecology and the Body
The Peasant and the Harvest in the Novel
Making New: Form and Poetic Space
Youth, Juvenilia, and the Emergence of the Literary Work
The Romantic Imagination and the Possibility of Change
Alchemical and Religious Transformations in Medieval Literature
Autochthonism and Postcolonial Literature
Metamorphoses and the Fantastic
Representations of Landscape
The Political Imagination and Literature
Weather and Temperament
Origins of a Genre
Inspiration and Imagination
Desire and the Avant-Garde
Revolution and the Crises of Modernism
Ending: Prophecy and the Rhetoric of Closure
Authenticity and Value in Modern Poetry
Industry and the Pastoral
(New) Imperialism and the Politics of the Environment
Spring as Place and Literary Concept
The Youthful: Nostalgia and Exuberance
New Criticism

Please send proposals of no more than 300 words to:
bcvernality_at_gmail.com
(Presentations will be allotted 15 minutes)
Deadline: 20 March 2008

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Received on Thu Feb 21 2008 - 09:31:53 EST

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