CFP: Imagining Our Others: A Literary Ethics (11/30/05; ACLA, 3/23/06-3/26/06)

full name / name of organization: 
anne caswell klein
contact email: 
acaswell@princeton.edu

Paper proposals are invited for the following seminar at the 2006
American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference in
Princeton, NJ:

Imagining Our Others: A Literary Ethics

George Eliot writes in an 1859 letter that the primary task of art is
to "enlarge men's sympathies," enabling us to "imagine and to feel the
pains and joys" of people utterly unlike ourselves. Thus, she promotes
a literary ethics, one based in the individual experiences of the
artist and audience over theoretical principle and abstraction. Along
with the possibility for compassionate understanding, this model brings
with it the very real possibility of violation -- for instance, the
collapse of a distinction between the self and other people and the
consequent subjugation or effacement of these others. The focus on
individual experience also risks obscuring political and historical
concerns. How do we confront these dangers? Is there an attendant
danger in not imagining? As writers and readers, how can we imagine
the other ethically? Although anxieties about failures of empathy and
ethics may arise with urgency when we confront moments of crisis, such
as war, terror, agony, or grave loss, how is the ethical imagination
also challenged by mundane and everyday otherness? Responding to
critics and philosophers such as Nussbaum, Sontag, Scarry, and Bakhtin,
this seminar will explore the limits of the imagination, what lies
beyond the boundaries of the imaginable, and how literature limns this
boundary. The impulse to imagine others appears inherently human. Can
we assure ourselves that it is also humane?

All abstracts (250 words maximum) must be submitted online to the ACLA:
http://aslamp01.princeton.edu/%7Eoitdas/acla06/

The submission deadline for abstracts is November 30, 2005.

The ACLA conferences are structured in eight- or twelve-person seminars
(or "streams") that meet as a consistent group for two hours per day
for either two or three days of the conference. Papers should be 15-20
minutes long -- no longer -- to allow time for extended discussion
among all participants over the course of the seminar. For further
information about the conference, including the format, please see
http://webscript.princeton.edu/~acla06/site/

Seminar Organizers:
Anne Caswell Klein, Princeton University
Ann Jurecic, Rutgers University
Amanda Irwin Wilkins, Princeton University

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Received on Mon Nov 21 2005 - 16:34:16 EST

cfp categories: 
theory