[UPDATE] Theorizing the Fantastic in 20th Century Art

full name / name of organization: 
Alison L. Heney, ACLA Seminar 2012
contact email: 

Theorizing the Fantastic in 20th Century Art

Seminar Organizer(s):
Alison Heney (SUNY Empire State College) ACLA Seminar

The ACLA conference is scheduled for March 29 - April 1, 2012 and we are in negotiations with an academic press interested in publishing a volume based on the proceedings of the seminar.

An abstract of 250 words is due by November 15th.
Please submit your papers to the ACLA website:


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.