Critical theory Session, PAMLA 2010 [4/5/10]

full name / name of organization: 
Asst. Prof. Jami Bartlett, U.C. Irvine / Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
contact email: 

This year's Critical Theory session invites proposals on charismatic theory, on the ways that critical approaches to literature and other arts become trends.

Recently, Amanda Anderson has written, "We are used to thinking of charisma as inhering in the thinker who makes the argument, but another key element in the emergence and influence of trends in scholarship and particularly the realm of theory is what we might call the charisma of the argument: how compelling, reproducible, and satisfying the argument is and why it has these effects." Characteristics that reliably produce this kind of trendiness include: critique that fashionably deconstructs existing forms and structures of thought, critique that arrives in and speaks to a volatile socio-political climate, and critique that integrates academics into popular culture through the form of the public intellectual.

Approaches may engage charismatic theories and texts from any period in the history of criticism and theory, but we will have an eye out for papers that address contemporary movements. (A quick glance at relevant CFPs suggests the following: trauma and affect theory, the new formalism, cognitive poetics, globalization and borderlands, political philosophy, the ethical turn, forms of life, animality studies, and so on.) Why do these fields become trends? How do they advocate for their own trendiness? And, what do they bring to the table?

Proposals of 500 words and a 40-word abstract must be submitted by April 5, 2010 using PAMLA's Online Proposal Form, at

Please send inquiries to Jami Bartlett at

Conference participants must pay PAMLA dues by May 1, 2010.