Traversals of affect/ Traversées d'affect - March 21-23rd, 2013 - extended deadline

full name / name of organization: 
Emory University, French Department and Comparative Literature Department

If one is to speak, following the work of Jean-François Lyotard, of the power of the work of art, it is to be located in the gesture that it enacts. The gesture does not belong to the objective properties of the work such that they might be adequately articulated, but rather stands as the "absolutely emotive power of the work," that which "affects sensibility beyond what it can sense." Without being immediately thinkable, the gesture would give rise to thought, demanding it, precisely as thought would be caught unprepared. That is to say that the work of art always involves a certain performance, no less in case of the plastic arts than in others, not as a simple representation, but as through the demand exerted by the unpresentable. The encounter with the work of art, as the awakening by the gesture of space-time-matter that would catch leave one affected, in a state of enfance, opens a certain passage from inarticulate affect to that of an articulated discourse. The traversal between these two incommensurate realms, the site of a differend, Lyotard names transference.

If the encounter with the work of art serves Lyotard as an exemplary case of the event of aisthesis, the role of transference becomes central to the questioning of affect, of sensibility, and of articulated discourse. This conference takes as its point of departure the theme of transference for a new investigation of Lyotard's work, its traversal of the realm of aesthetics and representation, philosophy and psychoanalysis. If the transferential motion between these realms does not serve to efface their heterogeneity but rather confirms it, the differend that the work of art would manifest in its gesture is not surpassed. We invite reflection on the role of these transferential passages, their relation to what remains apart from articulation, the role of affect, and the demand for thought brought about by the work in relation to Lyotard's oeuvre.

Suggested topics of discussion include:

The différend: traversal and transference

The phrase and the unconscious

Affect, gesture and performative embodiment

Theatricality: from the work of art to genres of discourse and means of exchange

The performance of affect: symptomaticity and aisthesis

The work of art and everyday affect

The labor of psychoanalysis and that of the work of art

We are happy to confirm the participation of our two keynotes speakers, Anne Tomiche (Université Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV) and Barbara Cassin (CNRS/Université Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV)

Please send your proposals, no longer than 500 words, for papers to be given in English or in French (English is preferred), to :, by November 15th, 2012. The length of a given presentation should not exceed twenty minutes. Please make sure to enclose your name and your university of affiliation, along with a brief biography.