"Revolutions, Post-Revolutions, Counter-Revolutions," March 16-17, 2012, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

full name / name of organization: 
Comparative Literature Intra-Student Faculty Forum (CLIFF)
contact email: 

Over the past two years, political uprisings and revolts have proliferated throughout the Arab world; more recently, protesters in New York have taken to the streets with calls for revolution. It is with these current events in mind that we propose an inter-disciplinary discussion of the diverse histories and instances of revolution—political, literary or social—and their aftermath.

In the spirit of the Department of Comparative Literature’s “Year of Anachronism,” we propose to engage with the historical contingency of the terms and concepts suggested by revolutions, post-revolutions and counter-revolutions. We maintain that experimentation and innovation in the arts—as well as the articulation and advancement of social and political revolutions—may be seen as a plurality of expressions, contingent on distinct historical contexts and cultural traditions, the movement and appropriation of intellectual and artistic ideas, asymmetrical power relations, and varying levels of tolerance for change.

In the context of literature, we would particularly like to examine how Western/ European categories and periodizations of “revolutionary” literary movements such as realism, avant-gardism, modernism and post-modernism have remained dominant, in spite of alternative avant-gardes, modernisms and realisms in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Similarly, we might ask whether theoretical models of revolution are also dominated by Western/European categories in spite of the abundance of revolutions in the non-Western world.

Abstracts of approximately 300 words for 15-minute presentations due: December 9, 2011.

All submissions and questions should be addressed to: cliff.umich@gmail.com

We welcome papers from across the disciplines. Papers may address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

--What connections exist between revolutionary social and aesthetic movements and literature?

-- In the context of revolution, what is literature’s relationship to politics? What is revolutionary or “politically engaged” literature?

--How are connections between historical change and literature conceptualized and articulated?

--What do ideologies (Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, etc.) teach us about the contexts and practices of revolution?

--How might we conceive of the before and the after of revolution? What is post-revolution? What kind of temporality does revolution involve?

--What responses or backlashes do revolutions provoke? How do revolutions become obsolete? What connections might we draw between revolutions and counter-revolutions across history?

--What connections can be seen between revolutions and cross-cultural/cross-national interactions, both in the pre-modern and modern world? How is translation complicit in revolutions?

--What are postcolonial instances of literary innovation/revolution?

--What connections might be made between revolutions and classical traditions?

--What do literary genres and categorizations mean in different contexts?

--What relationships might we identify between revolution and globalization and/or technology?

--What effect do differing levels of economic development have on revolution?

cfp categories: 
modernist studies