Don't Tell Me to Do the Math: Geometrical False Starts and Non-Linear Logics in Literature (ACLA 2013)

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Alex Ponomareff / University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Don't Tell Me to Do the Math: Geometrical False Starts and Non-Linear Logics in Literature

American Comparative Literature Association University of Toronto, Canada April 4 - 7, 2013.

Descartes insists on mapping out his thoughts and sensations along a straight line of logic. Without following his “geometers,” he worries that the foundations of his argument’s architecture will be left to the accidental wanderings of the mind. Hegel similarly celebrates the concreteness of straight lines and right angles in his Aesthetics. He favors the straight line, or virtual “wall,” created by reiterated columns; architectural indications of human intention and labor are valued above incorporated, natural aesthetics. Underlying these ideas is the unquestioned acceptance of Euclidean geometry, especially its first postulate, “To draw a straight line from any point to any point.”

These examples demarcate the entanglement that many European philosophers’ work has with geometry: their thought follows straight lines, like the logic underlying Euclidean proofs, until philosophical thought arrives somewhere (not always the desired place, as Descartes notes). But at what point does the human capacity for linear thought digress into a mise en abyme? When we aim for a straight line of logic, how can we navigate through literary texts without becoming lost in ad infinitum or in the disorientation of the Cartesian “somewhere”? How does rerouting, procrastination, or gesturing “offstage” affect our modes of reading?

We welcome papers that address issues of textual (de)constructions, narrative (non-)linearity, or the (mis)routes in literatures.

Topics addressed may include:

Narrative paneling or framing (frame stories, comic books, film, theater, etc.)
Literary labyrinths and empty spaces
Narrative detours and decelerations

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words through the ACLA website:

Alex Ponomareff, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Yelizaveta Goldfarb, Emory University

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