CFP: [Graduate] Under the Influence: Politics and the Currency of Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Mark Patkowski

Call for Proposals: “Under the Influence: Politics and the Currency of
Second Annual Brooklyn College Graduate English Conference
April 18, 2009, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY

Keynote Speaker: Simon Critchley
Professor Critchley, Chair of Philosophy at The New School, has written
on a wide variety of themes and authors, most recently on ethical and
political theory, the relation between poetry and philosophy, and the
nature of humor. At present, he is working on Rousseau, Heidegger, Ibsen,
Beckett, Pessoa, and Levinas.


Beware! The time approaches when human beings will no longer give birth
to a dancing star. . . . “What is love? What is creation? What is
longing? What is a star?”â€"thus asks the last human being, blinking.
(Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra)

A book exists only through the outside and on the outside. A book itself
is a little machine; what is the relation (also measurable) of this
literary machine to a war machine, love machine, revolutionary machine,
etc.â€"and an abstract machine that sweeps them along? (Deleuze & Guattari,
A Thousand Plateaus)

The concept of influence is as pervasive and problematic as the diverse
phenomena that the word influence is now used to signify. Rooted in the
pre-modern recognition of astral effects, influence touches upon
mostly ‘invisible’ relations: consciousness and world; the production of
social effects, moral authority, and ethical responses; the peddling of
political contacts; and the divination of spiritual and hermetic
principles. Indeed, it is possible that influence has never been more
influential, that influence is now an object of maximal belief and
desire, perhaps all the more so in the absence of a proper understanding
of what influence is, or more radically, in the face of the dizzying
impossibility of such an understanding, in the stupefying spectacle of a
world so teeming with influences (real, imagined, both) that the concept
becomes both inevitable and impossible.

This conference proposes to address the nature of influence, and the
influence of influence, at the nexus of literature and politics.
Particularly welcome are papers that address the issue of being under the
influence as it pertains to literary affect and pleasure, political
agency, and to how the currency of literatureâ€"its prevalence as an
accepted form of language-art; its cultural flow among institutions,
power-structures, and individuals; its emergence as a token for tradition
and canonizationâ€"signifies an effective exchange.

Related questions: What are the political actualities and potentialities
of literature’s currency? What is influence? Is influence the in-
spiration of the Zeitgeist? The “invisible hand” of the market? The
cosmological fortune-giving of Prospero’s “auspicious star”? The influx
of Joyce’s “streamsbecoming”? How is influence exerted? And how can we
describe its transmission? Moreover, how is literature influenced and
made possible by other discourses, such as philosophy, science and
mathematics, and how are they influenced by literature?

Possible topics:

• Literary experience as intoxication
• Capitalism, consumerism, and textual value
• Satire and political intimacy
• Media and the spaces of influence (markets, news, fashion, cyberspace,
hyperreality, et al)
• Authorship, authority, and anxieties of influence
• Literary labor as private cogitation and public obligation
• Transnational and postcolonial literary politics
• The book and the specialization of knowledge
• Politics of acquisition: orality and literacy
• Radicalism: theory and practice of the avant-garde
• Literary politicians: Anti-intellectualism and populism
• Mainstream and counterinfluence

Abstracts of no more than 300 words are due February 22, 2009.
Send them by Word attachment to

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Received on Sun Jan 11 2009 - 10:42:57 EST