"Parable Art " 25-26 October 2013

full name / name of organization: 
ERIBIA, Université de Caen, France
contact email: 
gilles.couderc@unicaen.fr; marcin.stawiarski@unicaen.fr

Parable Art
In the Sixties, British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) momentarily abandoned opera for the more intimate genre of his Church Parables, two of which, The Burning Fiery Furnace and The Prodigal Son, were inspired by Scriptures, from which parable as a genre derives, generally associated with the teaching of Christ. Parables are fictitious narratives in which the realities of everyday life are used to reveal and illustrate a doctrine or spiritual or moral matters or to enlighten the hearer by submitting to him a case with which he is not directly concerned so as to elicit a disinterested judgment from him. Every Britten opera actually is a parable; he belonged to the ‘Auden Generation’ who believed that literature and poetry were forms of action as Samuel Hynes points out in his eponymous opus of 1976. In ‘Psychology and Art To-day’ (1935) Auden defines parable-art as « that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love», thus eliminating any parallel with propaganda and the Marxist and Brechtian tenet of class struggle in favour of a revolution whose main agents would be art and artists : « Poetry is not concerned with telling people what to do but with extending our knowledge of good and evil, perhaps making the necessity of action more urgent and its nature more clear, but only leading us to the point where it is possible for us to make a rational and moral choice. » (Preface to The Poet’s Tongue, 1935)
While eschewing the genre’s didacticism, Auden like Britten follows in the long tradition of allegory and the fable that runs from Pier Plowman, Everyman, and The Pilgrim’s Progress to Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The objective of this conference is to examine the constancy and the metamorphoses of parable in the English-speaking world, in literature, drama, poetry, music, painting and the cinema and the genre’s persistence and relevance in the late XXth and early XXIst centuries when ideologies have collapsed and western societies have become secular and when parables still contribute to evangelising elsewhere. What tools does parable use? Do they evolve with time? Parable often implies a prescriptive text to which a person invested with moral authority refers. How is that specificity dealt with in transpositions involving several artistic forms? Is parable a valid definition of drama, mirror of the world, microcosm of the macrocosm? Is parable part of our mental structures? These are a few of the questions that beg to be addressed.

Abstracts between 250-300 words for papers of 30 minutes to be given in English or French are invited by 30 May 2013.
Please submit your abstract both to Gilles COUDERC (gilles.couderc@unicaen.fr) and Marcin STAWIARSKI (marcin.stawiarski@unicaen.fr)
Dates: 25-26 October 2013
Abstract deadline: 15 May 2013
Contact details: Gilles COUDERC (gilles.couderc@unicaen.fr) & Marcin STAWIARSKI (marcin.stawiarski@unicaen.fr)

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