"The Technologies of Starlings, Parrots, and Other Mocking 'Birds': Parroting, Parody, and Paralanguage."

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Because of their natural ability to imitate and improvise upon the songs and sounds of others, starlings exemplify the powers, the problems, and pleasures of mimesis. The mimicry of starlings, like that of parrots, raises many questions about the techniques of art, artifice, and paralinguistic performance within a comparative literary and cultural perspective. How do starling tropes orient classical texts from Dante to Shakespeare, Sterne to Austen, Mozart to Messiaen? How does the mimicry of the European starling compare to that of the parrot? How does it reorient colonial and postcolonial locations of culture, mimicry, and the (post)human? How do starlings and parrots, caged or uncaged, track the global positioning of cultures and languages?

This seminar invites papers that address the creative and/or imitative agency of any such starling acts or analogous technologies.

Some possible issues papers might address include:
-the narrative/poetic function of starlings, parrots, or caged birds in individual -works from any historical moment or linguistic tradition
-mechanical birds and other imitative automatons
-starling technologies in music (the significance, for example, of Mozart's starling)
-the starling as a figure for migratory patterns
-the starling and/or parrot and the technologies of exoticism
-scientific taxonomies and representations
-starlings and print technologies (e.g. The Ornithology of Francis Willoughby, -Bewick's History of British Birds, Audubon's Birds of America)
-Skylarks and Nightingales in Romantic poetry

The annual American Comparative Literature Conference which will be held in Toronto, Canada, April 4 - 7, 2013. The abstracts need to be submitted on the ACLA website: by November 15, 2012.