CFP: [Theory] Prose of the World (ACLA 08)

full name / name of organization: 
Na'ama Rokem
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Seminar Organizers: Na'ama Rokem (Yale University) and Nirvana Tanoukhi (Stanford University)

Prose has come to present itself as a neutral category, as the form that writing naturally takes on in
the absence of the intervention that creates bound language, meter and rhyme. As such a default
mode of expression, prose seems to exist everywhere and always. But, as scholars of the European
middle ages, for example, have shown, prose is a mode of expression that emerges as the result of
concentrated effort or of cultural and linguistic translation and transformation. In fact, as our
perspective widens beyond the modern west, we realize that more often than not prose is the object
of intense cultural scrutiny. This panel refunctionalizes a term put into currency in Hegel’s
Aesthetics - “prose of the world” as an invitation for a comparative discussion of literary form and
its cultural and ideological underpinnings. One of our points of departure is the term itself: how do
different languages call this thing? Under what conditions do historical and geographical “cultures”
associate prose with the “prosaic”? At the most basic level, what are the different linguistic contexts
in which prose is interpreted. For example, what are the different translations for “prose” and what
is its opposite?
Our utilization of the concept prose and Hegel’s powerful conjunction of “world” and “prose” serves
as a fresh entry into the question of world literature, and the implied relationship between prose
and modernity in “postcolonial” or “peripheral” literature. “Prose of the world” is, therefore, meant
to indicate the multiple and interrelated conceptions of prose in different languages and cultures.

Please submit abstracts at the ACLA website ( by November 15th.

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Received on Wed Nov 07 2007 - 21:46:25 EST