The Age of Outrage 19-20 october 2012
The annual Conference of the SEAC, the French Society of Contemporary British Literature, will be held at the University of Valenciennes, France, on October 18 and 19, and will focus on "the age of outrage".
'Outrage' is a feeling of anger that has given birth to rebellions on all continents over the past years. It is an invitation to examine the rebellious forces at work in 20th and 21st century British literature.
How do British writers rebel against their predecessors, how do they transform the prose, experiment with style or give rise to new literary forms (against which other authors can, in their turn, react)? By pushing the limits of the text, some authors question these limits, which leads to a 'textual crisis'. What are the devices used to denounce a certain literary order?
This year's conference invites us to discuss the motives of this formal outrage and question the readers' reaction. Readers can indeed embrace the cause or be shocked, outraged, but they can also resist this rebellion against (their?) literary heritage.
The conference also aims at defining the causes served by those paper upheavals. Whether it is the revolt of one character or a whole text, this subversion of a social, religious, political or sexual order stages an extra-textual indignation within a fictitious world.
Do some characters embody this literary rebellion more than others, thus contributing to make the border between fiction and reality more porous?
We wish to examine the different modes of indignation, from outraged cry to subtle complaint. Our interrogation is a broad one, one that includes notions of satire, parody, caricature and humour, which are amongst the most formidable weapons to stimulate 'reaction'.
Unlike resentment and bitterness, outrage and revolt suggest a broad and timeless posture. But to what end? Is it, as in the case of Nemesis, to re-establish one's own right?
This invites us, then, to envisage the risks of outrage and of the subversion of a norm: the dangers of moral indignation or ideological activism may then act as a threat to the literary text. They may impinge on the expression of a violent and sensitive emotion, and lessen the humorous and subversive dimensions of the texts.
Should outrage create trouble and possibly lead to horror and discomfort, to ugliness and instability?
Is there an aesthetics of outrage? What are the issues at stake as far as reception is concerned? Malaise, laughter, tears: isn't the reaction of the reader conditioned by the author against which he/she can, in turn, rebel?
The angles suggested here are, of course, non-exhaustive. We welcome proposals for papers of 300-500 words. They should be sent, together with a short CV indicating your institution and three recent publications to the following addresses by June 10th, 2012.