UPDATE: [African-American] UCLA Southland Conference: Genre Matters

full name / name of organization: 
Laura Haupt and Sam See
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19th Annual UCLA Southland Graduate Student Conference Call for Papers

Conference Title: Genre Matters
Conference Date: Friday, May 16, 2008
Keynote Speakers: Lowell Gallagher and Yogita Goyal, UCLA Department of

Introducing the recent PMLA issue titled “Remapping Genre,” Wai Chee
Dimock writes that, “far from being a neat catalog of what exists and
what is to come, genres are a vexed attempt to deal with material that
might or might not fit into that catalog.” Dimock’s suggestion that
genres bear a “vexed” relation to materials invites scrutiny into the
materials that compose genres and the genres that compose materials. Can
genre be considered material, and does the category of materiality itself
presuppose generic delimitations? What does genre’s materiality or
immateriality matter for the project of literary study? In sum, when is
and does genre matter? These questions seem particularly salient given
the recent reclamation of materiality in critical theory and cultural
studies, as signaled in work by scholars ranging from Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick to Judith Butler to Elizabeth Grosz.

Just as important as these questions, however, are the following: When is
and does genre not matter? Is categorical abstraction still meaningful in
an historical moment that many identify as the twilight of
poststructuralist theory? Is Dimock’s attempt to invigorate generic study
ineluctably outmoded? Is it true, as Stephen Owen argues in the same PMLA
issue, that “the passion for taxonomy, accompanied by sharp definition of
the categories, seems to belong to a past age”? Or is it possible, as
Dimock proposes, for literary study to be so “empirical” that genres
issue “not from automatic periodization or nationalization but from
simply observing the meandering paths of this body of material”?

The 19th Annual UCLA Southland Graduate Student Conference, held on
Friday, May 16, 2008, will explore these questions under the conference
title “Genre Matters.” Presentations may consider any dimension of the
relationship between genre and materiality suggested by the preceding or
following questions:

• After a century’s worth of institutionalized academic study, to
what extent can literature still be considered a specific genre of
writing? What are its materials?

• What is the relation between literature’s subgenres and new media
like electronic literature and non-textual art?

• How does the genre of literary criticism contribute to and
complicate our material understanding of literature?

• How does the interdisciplinary turn in literary studies affect
genre as an object of study?

• What is genre’s relation to the generic, an adjective that
describes both specific and general materials?

• Can genre’s materials be ephemeral? Can genre actively create

• Considering that genre and gender derive from the same root word,
is the body a genre?

• Must “the history of genres” be, as Dimock claims, “above all a
reproductive history,” or one rooted in a global kinship? How might
gender and sexuality studies tell a different story about genre’s history?

• How are the discourses of genre and race related? How are racial
materials ascertained in genre study?

• What are the relationships between genre and the constitution of
the subject? How does genre reimagine or reshape personal or political
identity, and what are the politics of genre’s exclusions and inclusions
vis-à-vis materiality?

• What are the risks and advantages of positing that “fluidity”
should be “front and center in our study of genres,” as Dimock proposes?
How does fluid meaningfully differ from other materials?

• What affinities and discordances exist between genre and science

Please email abstracts of 250-350 words to Laura Haupt and Sam See at
genrematters_at_gmail.com by Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Received on Mon Feb 11 2008 - 22:59:41 EST

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