Panel: "Deciphering Sutpen's Hundred" Deadline: November 1, 2013
Call for Papers for conference panel
"Deciphering Sutpen's Hundred: Ideology, Representation, and the Politics of Aesthetics in Absalom, Absalom!"
Faulkner and History, Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, July 20-24, 2014, University of Mississippi
In his 1936 magnum opus, Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner carefully lays out--via multiple unreliable narrators--the genesis, construction, staffing, inhabitance, management, and ultimate destruction of Sutpen's Hundred, the manor, the legacy, and the social vision. Seventy-seven years of scholarship have produced radically diverse interpretations of the political, ideological, historical, and theoretical significance of Sutpen's, and of Faulkner's, project--from Cleanth Brooks' influential 1951 assessment that Faulkner dooms Sutpen's design by making him a secular, Machiavellian "modern man," to Chris Bongie's chapter in his post-colonial Islands and Exiles (1998) on Sutpen's embeddedness in a Caribbean colonial history he continually misreads and Daniel Spoth's 2011 reader-response analysis in ELH of how Sutpen's violent transpositioning of cultural and racial anxieties onto land was, and lent itself to be, embraced by Nazis. Throughout Faulkner's self-reflexive myth-making, genre appropriations, and dazzling modernist prose, we might ask, what is the precise nature of the tragedy of Absalom, Absalom!? Armed with fresh interdisciplinary tools, how do we read Sutpen's Hundred?
This panel seeks to examine the roles of ideology, agency, and historical change in Sutpen's design and their relationship to Faulkner's larger aesthetic project in Absalom, Absalom!. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
• Sutpen's Hundred as political allegory
• Absalom, Absalom! and plantation modernism
• Social revolution and the making of tradition
• Architecture, design, and literary and social structure
• Physical place and psychic space
• Constructions of race
• Roles of gender and sexuality
• Ideology and class consciousness
• Roles of violence
• Invocation of Southern and Haitian history
• Intellectual contexts
• Slavery in Absalom, Absalom!