Counterfeit Realities (ACLA--University of Toronto)

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American Comparative Literature Association
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Organization: American Comparative Literature Association (; please be sure to mark your submission for this particular seminar: Counterfeit Realities
Location: University of Toronto
Proposal due date: November 1st
Conference date: April 4-7
Seminar Organizers: Wesley Burdine (University of Minnesota), Andrew Marzoni (University of Minnesota)

Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this seminar presupposes is…maybe he didn't. We will examine the ways in which experience and representation have been historically opposed to each other, leading the latter to be deemed as a merely counterfeit or artificial version of the former. Our goal is to consider the different ways that "realism" has come to dictate conceptions of reality, and further, the ways in which media, genres, and theoretical traditions have come to challenge reality as a concept.

The questions we might consider along the way include: If, as thinkers as diverse as Kant, Baudrillard, and Philip K. Dick have posited, the self is ultimately unknowable, how are we, as humans, to locate or define any single reality in which we exist? This, of course, leads scholars of posthumanism and speculative realism to beg the question: is human reality the only reality? Do avant-garde movements such as surrealism or more popular genres such as science fiction, which offer various "hyperrealities," simply provide counterfeits of reality, or rather, come to augment prescribed definitions of reality? Is it possible to maintain stable boundaries between fiction and nonfiction—in terms of the documentary film or literary journalism, perhaps—or do these boundaries inevitably collapse? What is authenticity? How does the counterfeit aid and/or problematize theorizations of an authentic self, or an authentic reality?

We invite participants to reflect on these, and similar questions, as they may arise in considerations of literature, cinema, visual art, and theory.

PROPOSALS may be sent via the ACLA's website here:

Note: The ACLA works in a seminar format, meaning that this seminar will run over three days, so as to facilitate more conversation between participants.

SEMINAR KEYWORDS: realism, surrealism, reality, hyperreality, media, counterfeit, authenticity, artificiality