ACLA: Allegories of Language (New Orleans 1-4 April 2010; abstract by 11/13)

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American Comparative Literature Association
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Allegory has long been situated in a metaphorical-metaphysical scheme that presumes a hierarchical relationship between word and meaning. One way to rethink this relationship is to consider allegory as intrinsic to language itself (rather than as some meaning located outside of language) and how this view might challenge a hierarchical structure of reference. By bracketing this hierarchical relationship, we can consider the allegory of language itself. Allegory enables one to say two things at once, what one says in words and what one says other than in words. Allegory thus speaks a language that is also other to itself. Many works of language can be read "allegorically" as saying two things at the same time, or as Northrop Frye described it, "contrapuntally." Questions this seminar may consider include: How does counterpoint draw attention away from hierarchical relations. How would this be a healthy turn for the study of allegory? Would the study of pidgin and creole literatures benefit from a contrapuntal approach? How would this resistance to hierarchical meaning apply to other "languages," like music and art, in addition to literature. Could the cultural contexts of colonialism, imperialism, and diaspora be read differently if read contrapuntally? Allegorically? All thoughtful considerations of this general topic are welcome.
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NOTE: The ACLA offers a unique and productive conference style in which 12 participants meet for two hours each morning of the conference (3 days). In our seminar, participants will deliver a paper and respond to one other paper, and we will leave ample time for discussion each day. If you have any questions, please contact me.