CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Affectation from the Renaissance to today (MLA, San Francisco 2008)

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Bradley W. Buchanan
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What makes a person seem “affected” rather than natural, and why should it matter? Since the
concept of affectation became current during the Renaissance (in part thanks to texts such as
Castiglione's The Courtier) many playwrights, philosophers and novelists have tried to codify and
dramatize the difference between "affected" and spontaneous or natural behavior. This distinction,
however, is frequently blurred by the ambiguity of motives and gestures. Indeed, some might argue
that the effort to distinguish between truthful, heartfelt or natural feelings and simulated or affected
ones is doomed to failure. Yet these efforts and the difficulties they encounter arguably tell us a
great deal about the particular historical and cultural moments in which they occur. The attempt to
tell truth from falsehood is fraught with political, sexual, epistemological and ontological anxiety,
and is at the root of many aesthetic and moral debates from the sixteenth century onward. All
genres, traditions and approaches are welcome. 1-2-page abstracts or 8-page papers by 1 March,

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Received on Tue Oct 09 2007 - 16:27:17 EDT

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