full name / name of organization:
Literature After Literature: 21st Century Re-readings
The English Graduate Student Organization at the University at Albany
(SUNY) seeks papers for its annual graduate student conference that is
being held in April in conjunction with a visit by and conference on
Hélène Cixous, the world-renown French feminist scholar, novelist, and
playwright. This year's topic, "What does it mean to read in the 21st
century?”, is inspired by Cixous' politically-charged work across various
genres. The conference will explore an array of questions relating to the
reading of literature today.
It seems that we live in an era where reading advertisements and tabloids
has become just as important, if not more crucial than, what has come to
be known as the canon. Today, there is a large public who choose not to
read literature (in the classical sense) at all – literacy without
literature, but with Internet, television, advertisements, magazines,
tabloids, etc. It can be argued that very little of our reading today is
of the 'literary type' as it was understood in previous centuries (as
recent as the 'literary type' of readings performed by New Critics). The
21st century finds us reading after the text has opened its borders to
countless interpretive modes. Contemporary critical theory has shown that
no reading occurs in isolation - the same theories and ideologies equally
inform the novel and television advertisement. Whether the act of reading
takes place in seclusion or in public-under a reading lamp in one's study
or on a train whirring past a billboard, the moment of reading is always
influenced by cultural conditioning and social and linguistic theorizing.
The result is that theory, ideology, and politics emerge today in places
where they may not have before. The Victorian novel has become mired in a
Marxist critique of bourgeois ideology, the daily newspaper can
deconstruct itself, and “language poetry” purports, in many ways, to be
"theory," leaving us to reconsider the definitions of literature. We are
begged to ask, "What is literary in the 21st century?"
Papers on the following topics will be reviewed for consideration:
o Can we treat literature as theory unto itself?
o How does living in the 21st century affect our practices of reading?
o How do pop-culture phenomena condition us to read throughout our lives?
o How do literary trends like celebrity authorship, book clubs, popular
novels, web blogs, etc., affect our conception of the “literary” and the
process of reading itself?
o In what ways has post-structuralism contributed to the notion of being
o How do we teach literature in the 21st cenutry?
o Are current educational standards and methods compatible or antithetical
to the requirements of approaching the “text” in this manner?
o What is the role of English Departments in investigating the
o How does genre fit into the question of reading in the 21st century?
Please submit a 250 word abstract to egsoalbany_at_yahoo.com by January 15.
From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
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or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Fri Dec 15 2006 - 20:18:12 EST