CFP: [Theory] ACLA 2008: Revisiting Historicism (deadline 11/15/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Carolyn Betensky
contact email: 

Revisiting Historicism
Panel for 2008 American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting
April 24 - 27, 2008
California State University, Long Beach
Panel organizers: Carolyn Betensky, Department of English, University of
Rhode Island, and Susan Hiner, Department of French, Vassar College

Historicism is no longer new. In many disciplines across the humanities
and social sciences, once-iconoclastic historicist approaches now
constitute a dominant (and in some disciplines, the dominant)
methodological and theoretical paradigm. Nowadays, the injunction “Always
historicize!” can sound less like an urgent call than a demand to toe the

This panel seeks to revisit the goal of historicization in order not
(simply) to contest it but rather to recover it from some of the layers
of obviousness it has accumulated. Some of the questions we might
consider: has the “luminous detail” run its course? Is it possible to
write what Foucault called a “history of the present” if our attention is
directed primarily toward knowing the past? Are there new or excluded
modes of historicizing that might usefully inform our thinking about
cultural practices? Could outdated modes of thinking about history
(notions of the “transhistorical,” for instance) safely be readmitted, on
a case-by-case basis, to our intellectual portfolio? What gets lost when
we historicize with too much rigor? What might be gained if we
historicized differently?

Deadline for papers: November 15, 2007
Submit 250-word proposal to
Queries to Carolyn Betensky (

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Received on Wed Oct 17 2007 - 14:36:30 EDT