2011 ACLA Seminar: Spaces of Encounter: Exploring Other Possibilities of Selfhood

full name / name of organization: 
Li Guo, Utah State University
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We are putting together 12-15 papers for a seminar on the 2011 Annual Meeting of American Comparative Literature at Vancouver. The CFP is as follows. Please email li.guo@usu.edu a paper proposal of 250 words in length, that talks to the following topic.

"To live with the other, with the foreigner, confronts us with the possibility… of being an other." Julia Kristeva notes in Étrangers à nous-mêmes. Is encountering the other an alienated identification process that reifies difference and incommensurability? Or does the experience of encountering the other, anticipated or unexpected, lead to a multifarious and relational understanding of one's identity? This seminar explores the notion of "spaces of encounter" by bringing together critical studies that reflect the following questions. How do social and cultural spaces affect our capability and experience of intersubjective encounter? How do encounters with the cultural, sexual, gendered and ethnic other enrich the presence of the self? What is the cultural significance of fissures, gaps, peripheral and in-between spaces? How do these spaces make possible the subject's active encounter with and transgression of discursively regulated boundaries?

Subthemes for the seminar include, but are not limited to the following topics. 1) Does the experience of facing the other create spaces of self-expression for literary forms and cultural voices that have not been included in mainstream discourses? 2) When literary texts are transmitted through media and film, or converted to electronic hypertexts through internet, how do these texts retain traditional values and extend their readership? 3) How does encountering a sexual other change one's gendered perspective, and dilate his or her sense of selfhood through sympathetic identification with the other? How does transgendered performance amplify our understanding of performativity and cross-identification?