Thinking and Practicing Reconciliation: Literary and Pedagogical Responses to Atrocity

full name / name of organization: 
Jack Shuler and Leo Riegert

Thinking and Practicing Reconciliation: Literary and Pedagogical Responses to Atrocity

We invite proposals for an edited volume that seeks to bridge a gap between the academic study of literature dealing with the aftermath of gross human rights violations and the teaching of this literature. We hope to bring together instructors/critics from a variety of disciplines who discuss reconciliation in the wake of U.S. slavery, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and Apartheid South Africa, for example. Essays will investigate not just how literature approaches the thorny issue of reconciliation, but how the often contradictory demands of this literature confront the unambiguous demand for ethical action provoked by ultimate horrors. In some cases, the text itself both explores the ambiguities of resolution and begins to do the work of reconciliation. In other cases, it is the pedagogical approach the instructor brings to the text which combines the theory and practice of reconciliation.

Recent theoretical and literary approaches to the aftermaths of large-scale atrocity typically insist on the impossibility of any ultimate "truth and reconciliation." Yet where does this necessary open-endedness leave us as teachers and scholars of literature in terms of cultivating in our students and readers a critically-informed moral engagement in the world, an engagement necessary to achieving real-world reconciliation and preventing future genocides?

You may engage with this question or others. For example: Do fictional representations cloud the history of these events? What is forgiveness? What is reconciliation? What's the relationship of the grand public apology to the private apology? How is the grand public apology or commission a kind of performance? How can we engage readers and students in these questions and discussions? How do texts engage readers and students in these questions?

We welcome proposals for papers to be included in this volume. Please submit an abstract of approximately 500 words and C.V. before January 1, 2010. Email attachments as Word documents to:

Jack Shuler –
Leo Riegert –

- Decisions will be made in early January 2010
- Final papers will be required by June 1, 2010