CFP: [Theory] Ruins: Politics, History, and the Literary (ACLA)

full name / name of organization: 
David Kelman
contact email: 

“Ruins: Politics, History, and the Literary”
Panel for 2009 American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting
March 26 â€" 29, 2009
Harvard University
Deadline for papers: November 3, 2008
Submit proposal to

Panel Organizers: David Kelman (California State University) and Jennifer
Ballengee (Towson University)

This panel will address the figure of the ruin and its relation to history
and politics. “The word ‘history’,” asserted Walter Benjamin, “stands
written on the countenance of nature in the characters of transience.” He
went on to note: “The allegorical physiognomy of the nature-history . . .
is present in reality in the form of the ruin.” We will take Benjamin as a
point of departure â€" perhaps agreeing with him, perhaps arguing against
him â€" in order to investigate the way history and nature combine to
suggest the political potential of ruins in the cultured landscape. The
landscape of ruins provides a physical, tangible, and malleable canvas
upon which culture may be depicted, resurrected, reconstituted, or imposed
upon others. As such, the ruin can become a powerful repository of meaning
for a culture, a site invested with great political significance â€" a point
marking the convergence of the past, present, and future, and a locus
where the global and the local collide. We invite papers that examine the
correspondence of the historical and the political in the material figure
of the ruin, in literature, theory, or other cultural performance.

For more information, contact David Kelman, Please
see ACLA's website for more information about the conference

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Received on Tue Oct 21 2008 - 11:43:06 EDT