[UPDATE] Transitions in Comparative Studies
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
- Prof Massimo Fusilo (Università dell'Aquila)
- Prof Richard Bradford (University of Ulster)
- Prof Marina Grishakova (University of Tartu)
The comparative gesture performs both the act and the question of transition between the terms compared. Understood as an intercultural practice, comparative literature may thus also be understood as both a transitive and transnational process – creating its own object/form of knowledge as it identifies and analyses lines of relation and exchange between literary cultures. When navigating between languages, it becomes critically engaged with the possibility and methods of such navigation. Meanwhile, interdisciplinary and inter-medial versions of comparative studies likewise centre about transitions which may themselves remain under-analysed.
The very diversity of comparative practices enumerated, and the attendant versions of comparative discourse, indicate a field of study that is itself faced with the reality of transition. As CLAI (Comparative Literature Association of Ireland) establishes a new space for interaction between comparativists of local and global provenance, the possible directions of this transition are of central concern to this first international conference of the Association.
The methodological and definitional nature of transition in comparative literature resonates urgently with the transitional processes both in Ireland and around the world at the present time. As a thematic concern in comparative work, transition is thus also – within whatever historical period or other configuration it is charted and analysed – key to the renewed relevance of comparative literary scholarship and study today.
Proposals engaging with transitions in comparative literature at one or more of the levels outlined above are invited, especially in relation to the following panels.
1. Animals and Animality in Comparative Literature
Animals are at the heart of current debates, whether intellectual, social or ethical. However, literary critical voices are seldom heard among them.
We invite researchers to take part in the Animals and Animality debate and approach the topic from perspectives reflecting its comparative possibilities. Presentations will use the Animals and Animality theme as a conceptual perspective and will investigate issues such as Place and Identity; Good, Evil and Metamorphoses; or Auto- and Hetero-Images.
We encourage participants to consider how Comparative Literature may be particularly suitable to the exploration of the theme through specific comparative critical methodologies, such as Reception, Imagology, Geocriticism, Ekphrasis, Adaptation, etc.
We also encourage participants to consider how Animals and Animality studies have influenced various theoretical fields, such as 'animaliterature', critical race theory and feminist, postcolonial, and ecocritical and environmental studies.
Animals and Animality may be examined mixing different genres: fiction, poetry, music, art, fairy tales, fables, children's literature, digital games, film and graphic novels.
Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:
• Animals in mythology, and folklore
• Animal poetry and ecopoetics
• Urban and wild animals and the politics of space
• Animals in language / symbolic animals
• Bestiaries in religious art and their influence in the literary realm
• Animality/bestiality and perpetrators of depraved behaviour and violence
• Animals and biocentric ethics
2. Day and Night in Literature and the Arts
Representations of day and night are present in many artistic productions, be they literary, visual, musical or belonging to the world of performance arts. These two concepts, nurtured by religious or philosophical discourses, have impacted differently on societies and their literary outputs as centuries went by.
We invite researchers to take part in the Day and Night debate and approach the topic from perspectives reflecting its comparative possibilities. Discussions will use the Day and Night theme as a conceptual lens to investigate issues such as Self and Other, Self and Time, or Self and Space.
Comparative critical methodologies, such as Imagology, Myth Criticism, and Melocriticism are of particular interest here.
We also encourage participants to consider how Day and Night studies have influenced various theoretical fields, such as philosophical literature, children literature, sexuality studies, or spatial studies.
Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:
• The symbolism of day and night
• Day, night and magic
• Day, night and the city
• Day, night and sexuality studies (gender studies, queer studies, sensuality studies, age studies, eroticism, pornography…)
• Day, night and war or conflict literature
• The discourses and iconography of day and night in various cultural forms
• Day, night and space and time
• Day, night and secrets
• Dopplegangers, serious killers, murders and slaughter
• Day night and the Gothic
• Day night and romantic literature
• Day, night, dreams, fantasies and nightmares
• Day, night and teratology
3. Digital Transitions
In the wake of the explosive arrival of the internet and associated new media in the general public consciousness and use during the past decade, comparatists find themselves presented with a vast number of new possibilities, but also with new challenges. Visual art is no longer confined to forms such as painting and sculpture, but can now also be produced digitally. Virtual worlds call for questions about our understanding of space. Electronic literature weaves word and image together in new, innovative ways. New forms of storytelling take place in video games, on interactive websites and on social media. As an example, in 2010, the Royal Shakespeare Company, together with the production company Mudlark, staged a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
Despite the surge of such experimentations and developments, the comparative field has been slow to respond to them. Cultural and communication studies have addressed the digital worlds, but literary studies in particular have mostly refrained from engaging with them. This panel situates the encounter of the digital by/with/in literary scholarship in the wider context of intermediality, with its issues and challenges. A relevant recent call to address intermediality in literary studies has been put forward by Werner Wolf (CLCWeb Vol. 13 Issue 3).
This panel welcomes papers on both theory and practice of digital intermediality. It invites comparative analyses of intermedial works such as interactive narratives, video/online games, electronic literature or digital art, or the representation of the above in literature. Equally, it encourages more theoretical approaches to the topic. Examples of potential frameworks might include applications of narratology, relationship between word and image, space theory, the role of comparative literature in digital studies, and issues of availability and approachability of the digital world.
4. Virtual Realities: Online Construction of Identity: Virtual Realities: Online Construction of Identity
Comparative literature often concerns itself with the fluctuant nature of identity formation. Indeed, many argue that understanding world or comparative literature largely depends on an intentional divorce from what one would consider defining characteristics of ones identity, i.e. native language, nationality, society, etc. Comparative Literature thus continuously demands new perspectives, reflections and understandings of identity or contesting identities.
In our panel, we hope to examine the following:
• Are previously established realms, in which one would formulate a cultural identity being undermined by multifarious online avenues?
• Does ones identity no longer belong to national, historical, social, religious or cultural institutions?
• Can one construct a secular identity, free from worldly constraints; i.e. an identity in which sex, nationality, age and affiliation?
• In what sense is the field of Comparative Literature affected by the increasing stranglehold that online phenomena have on all society?
• What exactly is an online identity?
• How does it compare or relate to traditional identity models?
• How do these virtual identities relate to our notionally "real" identities?
• What are the effects these juxtaposing identities have on day-to-day relations outside the virtual world?
• How will traditional cultural frameworks reinterpret this shift?
• Where do literature and language fit into these paradigms?
• Are"elevated" art forms like literature and art have been irrevocably undermined by a new visual culture?
• How does the effect of not having art and literature in tangible forms affect our understanding of them, both culturally and socially?
• In this new environment of convergence and instant accessibility, is any form of exile possible?
• With little to no unexplored terrain available, are people migrating to a virtual limbo?
• What is the reality of having "a home away from home" within our instantly globalised world?
• With the advent of the online revolution, what affect does this have on translation studies?
• To what extent do virtual relations dictate real-life relationships and social interactions?
• Has virtual reality overtaken literature?
This novel identity formation takes place in an ethereal, ever expanding world in which anything is seemingly possible: online.
We invite contributions examining the realities of structuring an identity in a society where technological advances offer various platforms on which to present versions of the self.
5. Metamorphoses of (New) Media: On Aesthetics, Art and Artificial Reproduction
The medial materialities of inventions such as the Web 2.0, cinema or the printing press, do always affect fundamental aesthetic categories (and vice versa): they are a matter of meaning and thus challenge questions of authorship, the notion of the sign and text and problems of reception. They also mediate changing cultural conditions: they signify and catalyze complex processes of (inter)cultural communication and transformation. Medial metamorphoses thus function as indicators of both aesthetic and cultural transition.
Walter Benjamin discussed the aesthetic and cultural implications of mechanical reproducibility as a characteristic of mass media. At a time, however, when digital mass media leave their traces in areas from our daily communicational realities to literary or otherwise multimedia realities it is worth to (re)focus on such transitional processes and their effects. They did for instance affect and redefine the relation between author and recipient: whereas the physical presence of analogue media such as books is "monologic" the virtual presence of digital worlds is "polylogic". The former involves a monodirectional communication from one author to several readers, the latter provides a space where everybody can be an author.
This panel therefore seeks to explore such metamorphoses of the (new) media and semiotics concerning its aesthetical and associated implications:
(1) The notion of the Sign: How do (new) media relate to different sign systems and languages, technological phenomena like digitality and virtuality, or categories like orality and literacy?
(2) Communication: How do they create new qualities of communication in an interplay of orality, literacy and other sign systems (images, music…); how do they influence writing and reading strategies and requirements of media competences?
(3) Aesthetics and Literature: How do Literature and the new media affect each other and in how far is the notion of literature (authorship, text, readership etc.) subject to a redefinition – how does a new form of communication generate new forms of literature, genres and the like?