CFP: The Politics of Friendship: Modernist Literary/Philosophical Groups and their Embedded Politics (9/15/05; NEMLA, 3/2/06-3/5

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The Politics of Friendship: Modernist Literary/Philosophical Groups
and their Embedded Politics

proposal deadline: September 15, 2005

Call for papers for a panel on The Politics of Friendship: Modernist
Literary/Philosophical Groups and their Embedded Politics at 2006
NEMLA annual convention, Philadelphia, March 2-5, 2006

While the concept of modernism often invokes a lone image of a flaneur,
modernist literary or philosophical groups invite us to go beyond the
obsession of individual geniuses and to explore the dynamic politics as
embedded in these exemplary groups. The important role that some literary
circles, such as Woolf's Bloomsbury Group, the avant garde Tel Quel group,
or the Chinese "Crescent Moon" group, play in defining movements of
modernism is well known. Yet, it is often assumed implicitly that a group
is an assemblage of some quirky geniuses who tend to agree and disagree
with each other passionately. More important than the celebrity culture of
modernist literary groups, however, is how their agreements and
disagreements come to shape what we know today as modernism, or rather,
modernity. Therefore, in this panel, we propose to investigate different
aspects of modernist aesthetics and politics by seeing literary groups as
a priori. In this panel, we will ask: What is the singularity of the
group? How does the group define, identify, territorialize itself against,
at the same time in dynamic exchanges with, the mass culture "out there"?
How does the friendship among the group members affect their politics, and
vice versa?

The panel invites papers that engage theories of the group as well as
specific literary or philosophical circles such as Woolf's Bloomsbury,
C.S. Lewis and Tolkien's Inglings, Freud's "secret committee,"
Wittgenstein's "Vienna Circle," the Tel Quel group, the transatlantic
connections at the Leftbank, the poets gathering by Walden Pond, Dorothy
Parker's Vicious Circle, and many others. By looking at the groups, the
panel also seeks to explore their historical, political, and philosophical
significances. Papers that engage the concept of modernity and formation
of literary/philosophical groups from a philosophical, psychoanalytical,
and political perspective are especially welcome. Topics might include,
but are not limited to:

-- Theories of the group from Sigmund Freud, W.R. Bion, to Gilles Deleuze
and Felix Guattari. Does the group work on identification with the father
figure? Is Jacques Derrida's politics of friendship apply to the politics
of the group? Is friendship political? And how does politics affect their
friendship or fraternality?

-- History and genealogy of literary groups, e.g., comparison of twentieth
century literary groups with eighteenth century literary salon

-- Sex and sexuality of the group: How do we understand the homoeroticism
of certain literary groups? In what way are women in literary group
subversive of their sexual norms? How does sexual/gender dynamics affect
the working of the group?

-- Any specific literary or philosophical group and its role in modernist
aesthetic and political movements, including international groups

-- The organization, dissents, and dissemination of the group and analysis
of its embedded politics

-- Influences or cross-cultural comparisons between international groups

-- Cultural/national identities, hybridity, and exchanges in the formation
of the group

-- Transatlantic transmissions of modernist literary groups

-- Literary groups and their manifestoes, literary magazines and print

-- Important feuds and disputes related to a specific group

-- New developments of literary groups: internet, activist groups, virtual
"literary groups" of celebrities (such as "Oprah's Book Club")

Please submit proposals of approximately 500 words and a short
biographical note by September 15 to:

Lili Hsieh (

Lili Hsieh
Literature Program
Duke University

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Received on Mon Jun 20 2005 - 10:46:30 EDT