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Columbia Graduate Journal
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The Columbia French Graduate Student Association is pleased to announce the inaugural issue of its journal of graduate work, Épitextes, on the subject of:
“Circulation”: Networks, Knowledge and the Literary
In his article “Pouls” for Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedia, Ménuret de Chambaud propagated circulation as the sine qua non of health. Part of a project largely defined by its attempt to create a large system of knowledge and to be propagated to as many as possible, this article, pivotal in the debate between Cartesians and Mechanists, can in this sense be said to act as a part mirroring the whole, and exemplifies the polyvalent utility of the concept of circulation for the literary scholar. Blood circulation, the creation and role of knowledge networks in the dissemination of ideas, and the interaction between the eastern and western worlds are but a few examples of the ramifications of this concept. The way in which literary texts affect or ought to affect individuals’ relations to one another, be distributed among those individuals, and whom they ought to reach has fueled rivalries, inflamed tirades and informed national policy. From before the Aeneid’s celebration of Roman nobility and valor to Malraux’s Ministry of Culture and beyond, how a literary creation should circulate has been the business of writers and readers. This year’s FGSA conference hopes to explore how this business has affected and continues to affect French or Francophone texts and their study.
Equally important (and contentious) have been authors’ own attitudes towards the dissemination of their work, and those works’ representation of the circulation of ideas. Some texts are intended to behave as viruses on their audience, circulating throughout the system until passed on to the next host, as Sade’s unique blend of the erotic and the politically subversive, while some others seem more predisposed to sustain themselves within the cerebral frames of a few lecteurs avertis, exemplified by Mallarmé’s notorious impenetrability. What parameters drive a writer to seek or shun notoriety and what does the result entail for a text’s posterity?
Finally, and from the reader’s perspective, how well a text circulates and its relation to other texts has also been a central literary concern. A major pillar of literary history (and analysis) has for some time been the understanding of a text’s contexts and references. Also, how far a text has traveled and how much it has been commented has often determined its success or infamy, at least in part. Throughout history theologians have been equally prompt to tout their scriptures’ ubiquity or esoteric status as proof of their faiths; likewise, success or failure in globalized markets plays an ambivalent but significant role in current readers’ evaluation of a text’s integrity or desirability.
We invite graduate students from all disciplines to help us extract some of the more notable ways in which circulation has placed its stamp upon French literature. Articles of 15-25 pages, submitted electronically to email@example.com, with name, email and institutional affiliation, in French or English and dealing with this topic and within any period of French and Francophone literary history will be considered until November 15, 2009. Any and all approaches and perspectives, including from other fields in the humanities, are acceptable, and encouraged.