Theorizing the Fantastic in 20th Century Art [Nov. 15]

full name / name of organization: 
Alison Heney, SUNY
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In his short essay, "Aminadab or The Fantastic Considered as a Language," Sartre proposes that, "so long as it was thought possible to escape the conditions of human existence through asceticism, mysticism, metaphysical disciplines or the practice of poetry, fantasy was called upon to fulfill a very definite function."

However, as the post-war period sharpened the artist's sense of abandonment to the realm of the human, Fantasy, as Sartre explains, gave up "the exploration of transcendental reality" and resigned itself "to transcribing the human condition."

"We recognize the footprint on the shore as our own. There are no phantoms, no succubi, no weeping fountains. There are only men…the fantastic is only one of a hundred ways of mirroring his own image" – Sartre

In consideration of Sartre's proposal, this seminar seeks papers that will explore the evolving function of fantastic forms in 20th century art and perhaps the ways in which the language of the fantastic is engaged with the modern artist's investigation of social and political concerns such as the rise of technology, the terror of war, the construction of memory, historical narrative, feminist politics and spiritual bankruptcy.

Topics to be addressed may include, but are not limited to:

Modern Fiction and the Grotesque
The Uncanny and Modernity
The role and/or function of Fairy Tales/Myth
Fantastic narratives and Melancholia/Trauma
Aesthetics of the New
The Absurd
Cyberspace/The Cyborg
Women and Science Fiction
Magical Realism and/or Surrealism
We invite projects that discuss poetry, prose, cinema or any aspect of the visual arts.

This panel will take place at the Annual American Comparative Literature Association Conference, March 29th - April 1st, 2012 on the campus of Brown University in Providence. Hotel accommodations and local attraction information can be found on the ACLA's conference website at the following web address: http://

For full consideration, please log on to the ACLA 2012 website copied below and submit papers to the seminar "Theorizing the Fantastic in 20th Century Art" on or before NOVEMBER 15. If your paper is accepted you will need to register with the ACLA.