The Long Twentieth Century (1885-2008): Literature, Politics, Aesthetics

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Goldsmiths, University of London
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The Long Twentieth Century(1885-2008):Literature,Politics, Aesthetics
A one day conference

Department of English and Comparative Literature

Goldsmiths, University of London

September 18th 2013

'I see the political potential of art in art itself, in the aesthetic form as such'
-- Raymond Williams
'Literature does politics by simply being literature'
--Jacques Rancière

Keynote Speakers
Professor Paul Hamilton, Queen Mary, University of London
Professor Josh Cohen, Goldsmiths, University of London

Jean–Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jacques Rancière have all, in different ways, argued that any radical concept of the political is almost always dependent on the category of the aesthetic. The production of critique that avoids the reduction of the political to a dogmatic, one-dimensional orthodoxy is still as difficult today as it ever was, perhaps even more so with the so-called decline (welcome or otherwise) of ideology and the changed nature of the political. Examining these ideas, then, this one-day conference questions whether a productive relationship still exists between the political and the literary. It seeks to bring together 'older' forms of Marxist literary theory with a more 'continental' version, perhaps epitomised by Rancière's recent work, in order to examine where the idea of the 'ideology of the aesthetic' now stands. The conference will explore the following questions: how has the relationship between politics and literature--the world in the text--evolved since the end of the nineteenth century? How have the various tumults and upheavals of the last hundred years or so shaped our definition of the political? How have both literature and literary theory adapted to the 'new spirit of capitalism'? Is the idea of a meaningful relationship between literature and politics now outmoded? Does popular culture now have say more about politics than professionalised literary practices?

Possible subjects for consideration might include
• the 'failure' of the avant garde
• work and non-work
• civil unrest
• the 'market'
• feeling and affect
• democracy and terror
• the decline of the public university
• class, gender, race
• ethics and reading
• sex/sexuality/love
• the professionalisation of literature

Deadline for abstracts of no more than 350 words April 15th 2013 to