[UPDATE - extended deadline] Doing Violence in Literature and Photography (Seminar Panel)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Assocation (NeMLA)

In the Ground of the Image, Jean-Luc Nancy writes that "violence always makes an image of itself, and the image is what, of itself, presses out ahead of itself and authorizes itself." Here Jean-Luc Nancy draws attention to the intersection of image and violence that has been an abiding concern for scholars working at the interface of literary and photographic representation. Much recent scholarship including work by Dominick LaCapra, Georges Didi-Huberman, Susan Sontag, Cathy Caruth, and many others have focused on the ethical dimension of representing images of violence and trauma in literature and photography. Rather than framing this problem as a question of ethics, this seminar seeks to understand how images of violence have informed aesthetic advances in modernist forms of literature and photography.

Conflicts ranging from the American Civil War to World War II, the War in Vietnam to the ongoing War on Terror, have borne witness to the technologization and specularization of violence. It is hardly surprising, then, that many of these radically new and historically unimaginable forms of violence have propelled innovations in aesthetic techniques of representation as well. As the work of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Jacques Ranciere, and Jean-Luc Nancy has demonstrated, the violence constitutive of modernity and the ideologies it has produced have opened our analytical eyes to the violence inherent in modernist systems of aesthetic representation. One of the questions driving modernist art, and it is a question that we intend to drive this seminar panel as well, is how the mediums of literature and photography have negotiated the specifically aesthetic challenges to narrating images of violence with the understanding that artistic representation, as Nancy notes above, must inevitably do violence to the images and narratives they seek to construct. We seek papers that address how violence has been represented and conceptualized, in short made into an image, through the formal resources that arise out of the inter-aesthetic ground of literature and photography.


We welcome abstracts of no more than 300 words by October 15, 2013.