Death Sentence (ACLA 2014, March 20-23, NYU)

full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth Wijaya/ David Coughlan/ American Comparative Literature Association

With the 2013 publication in English of Volume 1 of Jacques Derrida's The Death Penalty, this is an opportune time to discuss the death sentence, which demands thinking about the limits of punishment and pardon, of death and life, of human and non-human, of the self and State, of the body, and, it can be argued, the ends of philosophy itself.

A capital sentence is a death sentence, a lawful determination that the State will put a person to death as punishment for a crime. This seminar seeks to consider the death sentence, and its place in theoretical, visual, and literary texts. What does the death sentence tell us of the value of life, or of the conditions of being, human or not? Moreover, this seminar is interested in considering the death sentence as text, or the pre-scribed text as death sentence. And how might one translate a death sentence? This would be a question not only of language, but of laws, jurisdictions, territories, and technologies. In an age of rendition and drones, we can ask if a death sentence is always declared, or if it often remains unspoken.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

The enforcement of a death sentence, by the Law, Fate, Author
Forms of "death sentence"
Psychoanalysis and the death drive
Recordings of life, death, and the after-life
Surviving a death sentence: ghosts and immortals
Technologies of execution
Typography, and the end as full-stop, or dash -

Please submit proposals of 250 words or fewer to, seminar selection "Death Sentence" Proposals must be received by November 1. Please contact Elizabeth or David if you have any questions.