Charlie Chaplin : Angers University, 10-12 April 2014

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Icons, myths and H/history : Charlot or the figure of the tramp and its avatars in literature, cinema and the other arts of the 20th and 21st centuries

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin's creation of the "Little Man", we are organizing an international symposium on Charlot the tramp and its avatars.
A marginal and burlesque figure at the core of the 20th century History, Charlot the tramp, is a rebellious spirit who escapes norms and bourgeois values. The "Little Man" is the miserable wretch, the shlemiel, the unlucky man of Yiddish literature who plays at the same time, the imps, the street urchins of the American novel, the schnorrer of Jewish literature and the inconsiderate and cheeky type. He is the embodiment of the open-handed trickster.
He is also a Noble Savage who, through a maze of streets, has at the same time, something of the Hugolian vagabond and of the wanderer of German literature, capable of delicate gestures and deep thoughts. A poet and a dandy in his own time, he is also the rebel, the crook and the smooth talker. A synthesis of literary archetypes from a popular and romantic tradition, Charlot the tramp is, above all, a film figure. Under the mask of the defeated clown acting to the tune of Chaplin's music, Charlie is at the crossroads of the music hall, the circus, the comedia dell'arte, the Punch and Judy shows and represents one of the first figures to celebrate the power of cinema to bring the arts together. Half way between myth and icon with his posturings and his odd outfit, Charlot the tramp offers a colourful figure who, like Bartleby, says 'no' with a smile. A way to oppose to the gravity of the world and of History, the lightness of dream and reverie.
Charlie Chaplin's body of work will be at the core of this symposium. We seek to underline the universal dimension of his character and the modernity of this figure and study how it emerges in various forms in the literature, the cinema and the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries.
How does this figure symbolize Man, his vulnerability, his resilience and his creativeness? How can we explain that this icon of the modern man still speaks to us today ?

Please send a 500 word abstract, a short bio and your contact information by September 30, 2013 to