"Government / Literature" for ACLA 2015 (Seattle, March 25-29)

full name / name of organization: 
Kevin Riordan / Nanyang Technological University
contact email: 

"Government" and "literature" belong to different spheres, exercise different forms of power, and are studied in different departments. As literary scholars, we often pit literature as a positive (humanizing, expressive, or empowering) force against negative (impersonal, bureaucratic, or oppressive) governments. Or, perhaps more commonly, we treat governments as irrelevant to the production and circulation of literary works. This seminar works to move beyond these familiar positions. We welcome papers from varied national, transnational, and historical contexts that stage the relation between government and literature in new and surprising ways. Our goal is to deepen our understanding of the varied and fraught—but concrete and underexamined—relations between these terms.

Contributions to this seminar might respond to some of these questions: How do governments support, deploy, limit, and prohibit literature? What economic and ideological tensions do governments place on the production of literature? How do authors attempt to engage governmental power without sacrificing their artistic principles? What are the consequences of national aesthetic programs, whether state-sanctioned or artist-driven? More broadly, what is produced in the tension and the terms' seeming incompatibility? And, with recent disciplinary shifts are there opportunities for imagining and excavating new relations between these two terms?

This proposed seminar is for ACLA's seminar format in which a larger group of participants (7-12) share work over a few days. Send us a brief proposal by August 28 if you' re interested in being part of the proposal to the ACLA; if the seminar goes forward, individual paper submissions will be accepted until October 15. More information about this process is available here: http://acla.org/annual-meeting/about-annual-meeting

Contact Kevin Riordan (kriordan@ntu.edu.sg) or Nick Hengen Fox (nick.hengenfox@pcc.edu) for more information.