Race and the Uses of Mimesis in American Literature

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The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900 (Feb. 22-24, 2014)

Race and the Uses of Mimesis in American Literature
The Louisville Conference for Literature and Culture After 1900
University of Louisville, KY
February 20-24, 2014

While the trope of mimesis, at least since Aristotle's Poetics, has remained central to literary studies, it takes on particular relevance in relation to questions of race. While it is now common for scholars and critics to claim that there is no "unracialized" experience of the real, we have yet to fully explore the ways in which racialized experience affects the understanding, deployment, and critique of mimesis as a trope. Moreover, given the ongoing crises of legal and political representation of race in the U.S., we might ask whether these seemingly scholarly concerns encode much more extensive meditations on the interpenetration of aesthetic and social uses of mimesis.

We seek papers exploring any aspect of the relationship between race and mimesis in twentieth and twenty-first century American literature. We hope to engage some of the following questions: How have different writers understood color as a signifier and race as a concept, and then how have they endeavored to accurately represent various racial assumptions? How do writers stave off alternative ideas of race and advance their own more "accurate" portrayals? How do writers dismantle false racial stereotypes and the posit alternative representations or generalizations? What formal choices show a writer endeavoring to fortify a particular idea of race? How has the representation of race changed during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? This list of questions is necessarily incomplete, and we hope that panelists might suggest some of their own to add to the list.

Please send proposals to Andrew Vogel < vogel@kutztown.edu > or Mark Sussman < mark.sussman@gmail.com> by September 22, 2013.