CFP: Left/Out: 'Texts' and their 'Ur-Texts' (France) (9/15/06; 3/18/07-3/19/07)

full name / name of organization: 
John BAK
contact email:

Call for Papers

"Left/Out: 'Texts' and their 'Ur-texts'"

International Conference

18 - 19 mars 2007

Université Nancy 2, France

More and more the public is being given access to material that was
never originally meant for its eyes. From film extras added to
collector’s edition DVDs to sensitive governmental files declassified
by laws like the Freedom of Information Act, this once-restricted
material has significantly contributed to our questioning not only the
process behind a “text’s” construction but also its universal claim of
being whole/complete/finished upon publication. For example, DVDs that
include special features which contain original material edited out of
final production challenge us to weigh our initial response to the
completed film or TV series against this unseen footage (itself
edited) which, if reinserted, potentially alters the text’s controlled
message. Films and DVDs are, of course, not the only “texts” affected
by deletions and post-production emendations such as these. Other
potential areas of study could include (but are not limited to):

• the genetic reading of a literary text’s manuscripts and or/variorum edition
• the comparative analysis of a painting’s studies
• the parallel reading of a film’s or TV series’ dialogue with its
subtitles or its dubbing
• a comparative reading of an author’s bilingual editions
• a reconstructive examination of declassified information.

All are examples of how the study of discarded textual material
practiced on a pluridisciplanary level with interdisciplinary methods
promotes the establishment of a non-teleological grammar that not only
challenges existing practices of valuing product over process but
undermines all categorical distinctions between the two terms. In
other words, studying the fragments “left out” of a text, either
separately as texts in and of themselves or in relation to the larger
work from which they were discarded, would serve to demonstrate how
the process is the product. One hypothesis behind the reasons for
these cuts is that they are politically determined by “conservative”
motives (in the broader sense of the word: conserve, conservatism,
conservation, etc.) and that the lost material often contains the very
seeds of the larger text’s deconstruction, which justify their

While research such as this already exists in each of the individual
fields mentioned, the colloquium proposes to address the phenomenon
collectively, examining how “left out” material in a variety of fields
and disciplines reshapes a final text, determines the nature of its
self- or state-imposed expurgation, and establishes a non-teleological
theory that values its process as product. What does the editing out
or re-insertion of “new” material into a “text” that has already
become fixed for many readers/viewers change in our analysis of it,
indeed in our analytical methods in general? Are there any consistent
similarities in the types of material that are cut, despite the genre?
Can studying the editorial process in various disciplines help us
construct a “theoretical model” of interdisciplinarity that studies
not only the links between disparate fields but also the researcher’s
tools with which to study them? While the immediate goal of the
colloquium would be to examine the gestalt of textual construction,
its more extended goal would be see if common ground can be found
between the interdisciplinary object and subject—between those of us
who study a text using different disciplines and those of us from
different disciplines studying a text—and how this may help us prepare
for an academic future wherein interdisciplinary theory and practice
seem poised to become the standard of scientific inquiry more than the

Half-hour presentations can be written in English or in French. A
selection of extended presentations based on the conference
proceedings will be published in “Regards croisés sur le monde
Anglophone,” by the Presses Universitaires de Nancy. Please send your
proposals (title and 500-word abstract) or completed papers by email
attachment to John S. Bak ( before 15
September 2006.

Organizing committee:

John S. Bak
Nathalie Collé-Bak
Monica Girard
Rachel Hutchins-Viroux
David Ten-Eyck
Jeremy Tranmer

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Received on Sat May 20 2006 - 10:08:43 EDT

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