search the archive
search the archive
full name / name of organization:
The department of Comparative Literature, UC Irvine
The Graduate Students of the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine present an interdisciplinary graduate student conference on April 29th, 2011.
Answering this question requires a reexamination of the notion of commitment in light of both contemporary theory and political praxis. Within the humanities, the notion of commitment has played an important part in the history of thinking the relation between art and politics, most notably in continental debates surrounding Sartre’s call for a littérature engagée (committed literature). Though this incitement drew ire from critics such as Adorno, it resonated with many writers engaged in anticolonial struggles, directly influencing, for example, the debates over adab al-iltizām (literature of commitment) in the mid-to-late twentieth century Arab literary world. Recent theoretical trends have problematized the relationship between aesthetics and political action, positing an inextricability that renders obsolete any meaningful distinction between art and politics. The fact that art has a political function today is undeniable, yet the notion of a committed art sounds theoretically naive and ideologically anachronistic. We propose this disjunction as a point of departure for reflections on political action, artistic production, cultural positioning and subjectivity. What does it mean to be committed? What are the aesthetic and political conditions for the positing of a commitment? To what can we commit? And where are the limits of commitment?
Our invitation extends to graduate students and independent scholars working in the social sciences, humanities or the arts, engaged in thinking through the idea of commitment in politics, art, literature, film, culture or pedagogy, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary work. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):