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CFP: Satire in Theory and Practice / Literature and Law Conference, March 29-30, John Jay College, CUNY
full name / name of organization:
In times like these, it’s hard not to write satire. And so that’s why I am advertising two linked panels on satire that will be featured at the upcoming John Jay College Biennial Conference on Literature and the Law next spring.
As you’ll see from the general announcement and call for papers that I have attached below, this conference, now in its third iteration, brings together legal and humanities scholars for an interdisciplinary dialogue that considers justice both in terms of contemporary and historical practices as well as in terms of its various theoretical and cultural imaginations. The conference theme this year is “the idea of justice,” and it will foreground new research that attempts to integrate the theory with the practice of justice, and/or that engages and compares differing notions and perspectives of justice.
To complement the theme of this year’s conference, I am organizing two panels: “Satire in Theory” and “Satire in Practice.” The first panel will present new scholarly work on the history and theory of satire, while the second panel will be a roundtable populated by TV writers, journalists, novelists and other “practicing satirists,” so to speak, who will discuss the nature and intent of satire in their own work.
These panels might as well have the subtitle: "Justice—the Very Idea!" Whether in Augustan Rome, Walpole’s Britain, or Post-Bush America, satire has had a long and vexed relationship with the pursuit (or neglect) of justice. Whenever the law has failed to do its job, whenever society has proved too pig-headed to know what’s good for it, writers have used satire to expose vice and ridicule folly. Next spring, I am looking to initiate a cross-disciplinary and cross-professional conversation about just what happens when writers operate alongside, outside or in sheer defiance of the law, seeking justice—or perhaps just settling scores?—with cutting speech.
For the academic panel, I am seeking theoretically-informed papers that seek to refine, or that take issue with, the traditional ways in which literary critics and other scholars have theorized satire. In light of what surely must be the efflorescence of another Golden Age of Satire in contemporary culture, papers are invited that reassess questions like the following:
• Do writers use satire to urge positive moral reform, or just to demolish what is wicked?
• Should satire have a right to attack real people, or must it stick to generalities?
• What is the line between slander and satire, and ought it be the same for every target?
• Is satire a genuinely ethical activity, or is it just a pretext for showing off one’s wit?
• Who gets to write satire, anyway, and whose interests does it really serve?
• Satire theory has typically addressed a tradition of formal verse satire, usually written by men, that locates its roots in Greek and Roman antiquity. But what of women satirists, or of non-white and non-western satiric traditions?
• The best recent satire theory shows renewed interest in Menippian satire. But how helpful is that tradition (and that category of analysis) for making sense of satire in practice today?
• How should we understand the difference that the satirist imagines between herself and the objects of her ridicule?
• What kind of difference does satire make anyway? Does it discover, or produce divisions? Does anything good come out of witty, cutting speech?
Participants in the “Satire in Theory” panel will also be asked to prepare a question to put to the “Satire in Practice” roundtable, which, as of press time, is scheduled to include writers from The Daily Show and the creator of Pop-up Video.
Scholars working on satire in any discipline are encouraged to participate; in addition to papers from literary critics, I’d welcome submissions from cultural historians and art historians as well. Proposals for 18 minute papers for the “Satire In Theory” panel should be sent to Al Coppola, Assistant Professor of English, John Jay College, CUNY, firstname.lastname@example.org no later than January 6, 2012.
General Conference CFP:
Third Biennial Literature and Law Conference
• Conference Date:
• Conference Location
• Conference Organizer and Contact Person
• Conference Theme and Overview:
• Call For Papers and Panels
o Panel proposals should contain the names and affiliations of the speakers, the titles of their papers, a clearly identified contact person, and an overall title for the panel. Panel proposals should be received by November 25th 2011. Given the 75 minute length for the panels at this conference, the panels should include no more than three presenters plus a commentator or moderator.
• CFP Deadline
• The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
• Conference Registration:
• Conference Website
• Conference Speakers
o George Anastaplo, Feaured Speaker: The conference’s featured speaker is Professor George Anastaplo from Loyola University School of Law in Chicago, whose life and career been devoted to the idea of justice, both in theory and practice. Professor Anastaplo is the author of more than 15 books, and innumerable articles, including The Constitutionalist: Notes on the First Amendment (1971, 2005), But Not Philosophy: Seven Introductions to Non-Western Thought (2002), The Thinker as Artist: From Homer to Plato & Aristotle (1997), The American Moralist: On Law, Ethics and Government (1992), The Constitution of 1787: A Commentary (1989), The Artist As Thinker: From Shakespeare to Joyce (1983) and Human Being and Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom, and the Common Good (1975). Professor Anastaplo, during his Illinois Bar interview in 1950, took a principled stand against McCarthy era questions asking about his political affiliations, and whether he believed in a right of revolution—he cited the Declaration of Independence to support his view that he and all Americans believe or should believe in such a right. The committee interviewing him was not pleased with his responses, and as a consequence, he has never been admitted to the Bar. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, in his dissent in Professor Anastaplo’s Supreme Court case seeking admission to the Illinois Bar (In Re Anastaplo 1961—which Anastaplo lost 5-4), vigorously defended Anastaplo’s position on first amendment grounds and asserted, among other things, that “we must not be afraid to be free”—Justice Black arranged for this quote, and others from his dissent, to be read at his funeral.