Textual Intervention and the Literary Subject [ACLA March 31 - April 3, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association

This seminar asks questions about the myriad ways that literary agency is mediated, complicated, and enriched by forces external to the author function. As scholars concerned with the material production of texts often point out, the literature we read is often shaped and transformed by the work of editors, publishers, amanuenses, illustrators, scribes, translators, compilers, and so on. All of these laborers operating between the inaugural author and the reader substantially transform both texts and readers' experiences of these texts. But how, this seminar asks, does this substantial field of labor inform our understanding of the subjects involved in the production of literarature? Such questions are particularly pertinent vis-à-vis texts that have been heavily mediated, such as historical autobiographies, slave narratives, and works in translation, but they remain pertinent beyond these immediate fields.

We invite papers that explore the extra-textual forces and agencies that help to shape stories and the complex and often relational identities that guide us through them. Participants might address the following questions, among others:

How does textual intervention produce volatile or multivocal subjects? How can we even identify textual interventions when they are often occluded in the struggle to produce the appearance of univocality? What are the ethical implications of intervening in particular texts? How might new media transform or reproduce ideas of literary production? How does editorial clarification transform the edited text?