CFP: The Art and Politics of Subversion: Theory in a Counter Mode (5/31/06; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Sura Rath
contact email: 


Forum on Contemporary Theory
Centre for Contemporary Theory
301-02 Shiv Shakti Complex
84 Sampatrao Colony, R. C. Dutt Road
Baroda 390 007, India
Tel: (0265)5522512
Website:; email:;

The Forum on Contemporary Theory, an organization based in Baroda,
India, has been organizing an international conference on Theory and
inter-disciplinary studies and publishing a volume every year of select
papers from the conference and from the submissions made in response to
its Call for Papers for the volume. In keeping with this practice it
will publish in 2006 a volume devoted to the theme of its eighth
international conference "The Art and Politics of Subversion: Theory
in a Counter Mode" held in Mangalore during 14-17 December 2005 in
collaboration with the Department of English, Mangalore University. The
volume will be published by Pencraft International, Delhi in association
with the Forum on Contemporary Theory, and will be formally launched at
the inaugural ceremony of its 9th conference to be held in mid-December
2006. It will be edited by R. Radhakrishnan, Chair, Department of Asian
American Studies and Professor of English and Comparative Literature,
University of California at Irvine, and Kishori Nayak, Chair, Department
of English, Mangalore University, India. The editors will be assisted by
R. Shashidhar, Ravishankar Rao, Parinitha and D. R. Shashidhar from the
Department of English, Mangalore University. The volume is part of a
series called Critical Interventions in Theory and Praxis launched by
the Centre for Contemporary Theory, Baroda under the general editorship
of Prafulla C. Kar and Parul Dave Mukerji, Conveners of the Forum on
Contemporary Theory.

The theme of the eighth international conference, "The Art and
Politics of Subversion: Theory in a Counter-Mode," continued the
debate initiated at the Vishakapatnam conference in 2004, focusing on
the dialogic encounter between the discourse of high Theory and what
could be called its "double" in its popular manifestation. It seeks
to explore in some detail how Theory's dominance seemed to have been
undermined through its own proliferation in the market of commodity
fetishization. But what may appear to be its dilution has in fact
become a symptom of Theory's greater accessibility and transmission
across cultures. This is visible in the very language in which Theory
now circulates and in its many forms. One could see even in Derrida's
later writings the sign of such a linguistic transformation indicating
his inclination toward some kind of expressive intelligibility. The
Bakhtinian notion of dialogism germane to every culture seems true in
the case of Theory as well. Despite Paul de Man's anxiety over the
vulgarization of Theory in the marketplace, theory has reached a broad
range of constituencies and is being consumed under different
conditions. When subversive, and this is not always the case, Theory has
not only critiqued the European legacies of the "metaphysics of
presence" but has enabled the emergence of what Foucault would call
"subjugated knowledges."

The proposed volume will attempt to examine the conditions under which
Theory has flourished, the implications for such proliferation for
Theory itself and its academic relevance, the nature and modes of such
proliferation and their cultural significance. It may sound paradoxical,
but it seems true that Theory as a holistic enterprise has provided
conditions for its own deconstruction by encouraging subversion as its
desired goal, thereby re-generating itself through its descent from its
self-imposed loftiness to the level of public participation by exploring
its playful and comic potential. The ascendancy of the "popular"
manifested in various cultural and aesthetic forms seems to signal that
Theory has been translated into its praxis and has thereby found its
appropriate articulation. We shall explore how this counter-mode has
been able to re-direct the energies of Theory into its ludic direction,
thus opening itself up to useful social and cultural appropriation.
Through such devices as political cartoons, fictional parody and
burlesque, comic strips and kitsch, colonial mimicry, carnivalesque
laughter, play and games, anecdotes as interventions, exploration of the
body in its performative acts and such other devices, Theory is
ubiquitous in its panoply of self-constitutive subversion. This kind of
subversion is both ideological, as it is aimed against high theory's
valorization of linguistic opacity and artistic as it exploits the
material already available in the field of Theory, extending its
boundary so that its relevance to the world at large is not lost. The
works of Huizinga and Bakhtin could be used as conceptual tools for
throwing more light on this aspect of Theory's other face. It is
important to understand what happens to Theory when it circulates
through media and popular art forms, or when Theory creates its own
travesties, as in the Sokal affair.

Papers, mostly of conceptual nature, supported by textual examples, are
welcome. Mere textual analysis without any broad framework will not be
entertained. The deadline for submissions is: May 31, 2006. You may send
the paper as an email attachment to R. Radhakrishnan at

The decision about the status of your paper will be communicated to you
by the end of August 2006.

Sura P. Rath, Director
The William O. Douglas Honors College
Central Washington University
Language & Literature Building, #103B
400 East University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7521
Phone: 509-963-1440
Fax: 509-963-1206

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Received on Sat Jan 21 2006 - 13:49:39 EST