Animal and Animality Studies and Other Posthumanist Approaches to Wallace Stevens (due 10/09/09)

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The Wallace Stevens Society
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Animal and Animality Studies and Other Posthumanist Approaches to Wallace Stevens

The 38th annual Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900.
The University of Louisville, February 18-20, 2010.

Animal and animality studies has recently gained notice as an emergent critical mode. “Why Animals Now?” Marianne DeKoven’s guest column in the March 2009 issue of PMLA, for example, asserts the vitality of animal studies to literary theory and criticism. Among other things, suggests DeKoven, an increasing awareness of planetary depredation wrought by the human species is leading many of today’s thinkers to turn “toward other animals as a locus both of the other who calls us to ethics and of many of the things that, in our various modes of ethics, we value” (PMLA 124.2 367). Because, with varying degrees of metaphorical charge, animals are all but ubiquitous in Stevens’s poetry (bristling firecats, dreamy tigers, bloody lions, clattering pigeons, and scattered blackbirds come to mind), The Wallace Stevens Society invites scholars to approach the topic of animals/animality in Stevens. We especially welcome approaches to Stevens that explore this burgeoning critical mode as a continuation of the challenge to traditional humanism that began with French post-structuralism. In other words, we hope for discussions that will not merely consider Stevens’s animals/animality in readings of imagery, but from a perspective that challenges the centrality of the imagination to his work and focuses on, in DeKoven’s words, “the other who calls us to ethics.” Related topics—such as alterity, altruism, genocide, violence, and ethics without metaphysics—are welcome as entry points for an animal-conscious, posthumanist discussion of Stevens.
Essays might consider topics related to the following:
• the poetical treatment of animals and other subjects of political advocacy;
• reading self and Other, human and animal, sentiment and horror;
• comical representations of animals—implications for Stevens’s cultural milieu and ours;
• Stevens’s orthography and animal-like utterances (“Tim-ti-tum,/ Ti-tum-tum-tum!” (Ploughing on Sunday), “Ohoyaho,/ Ohoo” (Life is Motion));
• humans mimicking animals, the uncanny, and the unsettling of the human/nonhuman hierarchy;
• animals, the returned gaze, and alienation;
• animals, animality, and sexual desire;
• historical approaches to Stevens and animal welfare; and,
• connections between representations of animals, violence, and War.

Please send inquiries and abstracts of about 250 words to Tom Sowders at:
Deadline for submissions: October 9th, 2009

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