CFP: The Future/Ends of Narrative/Theory (5/1/06; MMLA, 11/9/06-11/12/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Mark A Pettus
contact email:

=B3The Future/Ends of Narrative/Theory=B2
MMLA 2006 Comparative Literature Panel
9-12 November 2006, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago IL
contact: Mark Pettus (, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Faced with practice, theory often turns its gaze toward the future, casting
predictions from a symptomatic present. Out of the present, theory often
prophesies the end of a movement or its continued progress.
Kant, for instance, read the French Revolution as a sign of mankind=B9s
progress and Prussia=B9s peace with the revolutionary government of France as
portending perpetual peace between all nations. Earlier in =B3Idea for
Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose=B2 (1784), Kant claimed that th=
philosophical effort of writing such a history=8Bone which seemingly could
only come from a novel=8Bitself would participate in the progressive
achievement of man=B9s nature.
In proclaiming the ends of history and art, Hegel symptomatically read his
own present more in accordance with eschatology than utopia. In the 20th
century, Koj=E8ve (end of man) and Fukayama (end of history) take up similar
dialectical predictions while anti-dialectical thinkers (Heidegger and the
end of metaphysics, Foucault and the end of man, etc.) show the same
penchant for making prophesy of the present.
>From Jameson=B9s utopic reading practice in The Political Unconscious to Hard=
and Negri=B9s celebration of the revolutionary potential of global capitalism
in Empire, even Marxist critics have found signs of future progress in
apparently ideological fields. In the end, very little seems to be capable
of binding predictive theory.
This panel examines how both theory and narrative form predictions and
prophecy out of moments of the present, particularly how the modes of theor=
and narrative interact in predictions of historical progress or closure.
Questions and topics to consider:
- in prediction, what is the economy of history, theory and narrative=
- how does predictive theory make use of narrative?
- how does prediction depend on figuration and tropes?
- how do predictive theories travel (e.g. Thomas Friedman=B9s use of
Malcolm Gladwell=B9s notion of the tipping point in diagnosing the prospects
for democracy in the Middle East)?
- how do predictive theories based on cyclical views of history diffe=
from ones based on linear historical models?
- how do predictions perform or participate in their theoretical
- what sort of attitudes toward the present are entailed by predictiv=
All genres and periods are welcome. Please submit abstracts of 250 words o=
less by 1 May 2006.

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Received on Fri Apr 21 2006 - 11:06:54 EDT

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