UPDATE: [Theory] ACLA: Beyond Subversion: Reading as Wonder, Affirmation, or Knowledge (deadline extended)

full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth S. Anker
contact email: 

Beyond Subversion: Reading as Wonder, Affirmation, or Knowledge
April 24-7, 2008
Long Beach, CA
Submission deadline Dec. 3, 2007

This panel invites new models and approaches for addressing the question of the types of “truth”
and “knowledge” we gain in reading. Many of the reigning disciplinary paradigms understand the
insights derived from literature as inherently opposed to affirmative and substantive renditions
of meaning and wisdom. Literature is thus understood as subverting, negating, and
interrogating universal or official definitions of the truth â€" whether those definitions are obtained
from the law, history, science, politics, or sociology. In this vein, postmodern, poststructuralist,
postcolonial, psychoanalytic, and gender theorists alike have explained the ethics of reading as
the emergence of alterity, lack, otherness, and the exception to the rule.

This panel seeks to move beyond such often programmatic and predictable frames to consider
new directions for theorizing the relationship between literature and knowledge. What positive
or confirmatory truth claims can the aesthetic register offer? Storytelling is in many ways
indispensable to legal, historical, and scientific discourse, as well as to the broader advancement
of social justice, so how can we explain the operations of narrative aesthetics in these practical
domains? If the recognitions inspired by reading are particularized and “singular,” how might
they nonetheless translate into broader conceptions of politics and ethics? At the same time, if
one looks to literature for statements of “truth,” how do we avoid transforming them into new
regimes of power, dominance, and exclusion? Can an emphasis upon literary description that
celebrates the immediate and the everyday, often neglected by critics prioritizing narrative
teleology and progress, reflect forms of localized and embodied meaning? Are there identifiable
literary devices that render its statements of truth affirmative while, at the same time, non-
absolute and resistant to totalization?

Please submit paper proposals (250 words maximum) to the seminar through the ACLA
conference website (www.acla.org/acla2008).

Feel free to send any questions to Elizabeth Anker, Wake Forest University. Email:

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Received on Sat Nov 17 2007 - 19:46:48 EST