CFP "Cultural Transformations" in the English-speaking World (France) (5/30/07; 3/14/08-3/16/08)

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Vanfasse Nathalie
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  “Cultural Transformations” in the English-speaking World
  Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille I, March 14-16, 2008
  International Conference, organized by the LERMA (Aix-en-Provence), in collaboration with the University of Oxford-Brookes.
  In The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1985), Jürgen Habermas argues that modernity is intent upon defining its own values and finding its standards within itself, thus breaking away from tradition and political / cultural heritage. Within the broader historical context that this conference wants to address, the phrase “cultural transformations” might easily become a slippery, all-purpose one. Is transformation to be understood as a departure from an initial, original state (in which case how can one decide with any certainty that the “source” was THE original? Difficult questions related to creation and authorship arise then)? Is it, conversely, part of a continuum, i.e. of an uninterrupted / on-and-off process? Lastly, should it be regarded as a truly personal breakthrough, a “flash of inspiration”, or as a move that is always absorbed by collective interactions? Moreover one may wonder whether, as the biographer D.F. McKenzie put it, some transformations are not
 “the sine qua non of a text’s survival” or of the survival of any cultural object
  Since the 1950s the idea that “culture” refers to a complex, multiple reality has been widely accepted. Raymond Williams (1921-1988) was one of the first British academics to elaborate extensively on culture, both in Culture and Society (1958) and in Keywords (1975), the latter book defining itself as “a vocabulary of culture and society”, i.e. a descriptive study of how cultural and social transformations occur within language, which in turn impacts on those transformations. Significantly, Williams’s Keywords distances itself from defining dictionaries with their underlying assumption that every word, beyond a possible range of meanings, has a “proper meaning”, or that the common origin often to be traced back should be accepted as authoritative.
  Cultural transformations are therefore inseparable from linguistic transformations, because language is the very material through which social and cultural systems legitimise themselves or implement minor and major evolutions. A case in point is the distinction famously devised by (Marxist) sociologists between high culture and low culture – conflict theorists would argue that for the most influential members of society, the justification for that distinction is not so much the cultural medium itself (a Bergman film versus a television series, Shakespeare against soap operas, canonical literature versus comics, etc.) as “the theoretical elaboration of that form”.
  This symposium aims at exploring the different forms transformation takes on (transfer, adaptation, cross-over, rewriting, republishing…), their outcomes (hybridism, generic transfers…) and their reception, in order to understand how they fit into a specific culture. Emphasis will be laid on changes from lowbrow to middlebrow and highbrow cultures, considered diachronically and synchronically. Papers will deal with the English-speaking world (Great Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States), and transformations will be analysed within each of these geographical areas and between separate areas. The colloquium will not be merely devoted to the study of texts. It will also tackle other cultural practices (visual and aural representations, such as painting, architecture, films, radio broadcasts…). As regards the period covered by the symposium, papers on the pre-modern and post-modern eras are most welcome.
  Papers will be in English. Please submit proposals in English (300 words) and short speaker biographies by 30 May 2007 to all organizers at the following addresses :
  Cécile Cottenet
  Gail Marshall
  Jean-Christophe Murat
  Nathalie Vanfasse
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Received on Fri Apr 13 2007 - 16:23:50 EDT

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