CFP: Immanent Expressions: Literature and the Encounter with Immanence - Edited Volume - March 1, 2014 Abstracts

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Brynnar Swenson (Butler University)
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Immanent Expressions: Literature and the Encounter with Immanence

What does it mean to read literature through the lens of immanence? While the theory of immanence—informed primarily by Spinoza—has influenced many recent investigations into politics, ontology, theology, and philosophy (see especially Warren Montag and Ted Stolze's The New Spinoza and Dimitris Vardoulakis's Spinoza Now), the question of the relationship between immanence and literature has received far less attention. The continuing interest in Deleuze's readings of literature, Pierre Macherey's A Theory of Literary Production, as well as studies documenting Spinoza's influence on Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelly, George Eliot, and Beckett, among others, points to productive potentials inherent in the often overlooked dynamic between literature and immanence. Central to the philosophy of immanence is a theory of interpretation which is directly linked to the concept of immanent causality, or, a theory of causality in which the cause does not stand outside its effects, but inheres in them. In relation to literature, immanent causality presupposes the act of interpretation because in this perspective the work of art does not exist prior to its effects. These effects, as Montag explains, "may remain dormant or deferred for decades or even centuries, (re)activated only in an encounter." This proposed edited volume will collect studies that explore the encounters between literature and the philosophy of immanence.
As immanence is a concept that operates in widely differing contexts, this book does not seek to pin it down as a concept so much as harness its manifold possibilities in search of new models for theorizing literature. This book seeks various approaches to the concept of immanence in order to best theorize and discuss its ramifications for the study of literature. We welcome specific readings of literary texts, the approaches of which are influenced by philosophies of immanence; we also welcome literary-theoretical and/or philosophical engagements with immanent philosophy.

Potential questions and topics include:
--What become of acts of literature when informed by a philosophy of immanence?
--What is the 'reality' belonging to literature's fictional qualities, i.e. its essential illusion, and what might be the social and political significance of that 'reality'?
--What is Literature in relation to Science or Ideology?
--If the imagination and its production of (literary) signs do not belong to a theological structure of meaning ultimately anchored in a point of transcendence (i.e. Logos), what is the resultant definition of literature, its essential function, or its potential?
--How do particular philosophies of immanence address/affect literary interpretation?
--How have poststructuralist interpretations of literature been read (or mis-read) as influenced by the philosophy of immanence?
--How have philosophers of immanence influenced individual authors?
--Immanent readings of literature.

Please send proposals of 400-500 words as attachment (.doc, docx. .pdf, .rtf, or .odt) to Brynnar Swenson at by March 1, 2014. Please direct all questions to the same address.