Panel on "Post-Moralitas" at 1st Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, Austin, TX, 4-6 Nov 2010

full name / name of organization: 
Julie Orlemanski (Harvard University) and Allan Mitchell (University of Victoria)

What are the after-images and effects of medieval forms of moral discourse? This panel at the 1st Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group ( seeks to animate and assess the question of post-morality in pre-modern culture, taking stock of its ethical possibilities and liabilities.

In our current interval of literary history, rumored to follow long after the moral didacticism of pre-modern literature, as well as after the demise of modernity's discrete aesthetic sphere – what transpires? For example, does post-catastrophic, post-human, postmodern, and post-medieval reading and writing participate anymore in the project of "aesthetic education"? Schiller, in his famous discussion Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, dreams of art that can address itself to the human "play drive" (Spieltrieb), changing and reforming our desires in accord with moral truth. Can such change still be countenanced in literature or in the readings we forge from literature of the past? Can we ever recover the "moral of the story"? And what happens now after the so-called "ethical turn"? Is morality a dead-end? Was it always a dead-end, cul-de-sac-ing in the post-moral? Does the post-moral consist in adopting another trope, turning away from the moral? Is post-morality really ethics? politics? ideology? critique? interpretation? aesthetics? literature itself?

Possible topics include:

Morality and poetry after catastrophe
Moral agency of the posthuman
Post-moral praxis
Necessity and contingency
morality vs./as ethics, politics, ideology, critique, aesthetics, interpretation, or literature
(post)medieval Spieltrieb
(post)medieval moral cynicism
morality and narrative form, style, exemplarity, temporality
"life" or "the living" as a moral category
moral verb tense and mood, grammar, syntax, form

Abstract deadline: July 31