CFP: Unpacking the Library: Literatures and their Archives (UK) (3/26/06; 6/24/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Sas Mays
contact email: 

Westminster English Colloquia Series
– Call for Papers –
Unpacking the Library: Literatures and their Archives.

The history of Western culture is punctuated by affirmations of the presence,
rebirth, or return of literature. Such affirmation involves, necessarily, if
implicitly or symbolically, a turn toward the archival forms of the text – that
is, traditionally speaking, a turn toward the codex and the library. This
recourse to textual holdings of various kinds clearly involves often
unacknowledged complexities of institutional, technical and cultural issues.

Indeed, the relation between literature and the library has often been
problematic – appearing within or between: the maintenance of ideas and the
accumulation of material; imaginative or intellectual freedom and ideological
collections policies; excitement and boredom; private ownership and mass
dissemination; taxonomy and miscellany, chaos and order; past and future. The
library may appear not only as a place of memory, security, and knowledge, but
of loss, trauma, and indeterminacy.

This complexity appears to be particularly apt for these times, when, in the
context of digitisation, the traditional forms of textual accumulation seem to
be in the process of their displacement and even their obsolescence.

However, literary studies have been historically characterised by the absence of
any consistent attempt to encounter the relation between literature and its
archival forms. The necessary interdisciplinarity of addressing such a lacuna
is embedded in such a failure: to what extent, then, has this complex
relationship been approached through other disciplines?

The colloquium calls for papers which pursue a critical analysis of literatures
and their archives from a multiplicity of approaches: literary-critical
analyses of the figure of the library; philosophical encounters with literature
and its texts; analysis of the symbolic connotations of the library from
cultural studies; the appearance of textual-archival forms within contemporary
art; sociological accounts of literature and the library within public culture;
architectural readings of the library within the built environment, etc.

Further Information.

The English Colloquia series at the University of Westminster has been
characterised by a wide range of critical engagements with key contemporary
literary and cultural issues, by speakers of national and international
academic standing, and by a significant record of publication.

Previous speakers have included Andrew Benjamin (Monash), Andrew Bowie (Royal
Holloway), Simon Critchley (New School, NY), Alex Garcia Duttmann (Goldsmiths),
Elena Gualtieri (Sussex), Maggie Humm (UEL), Simon Jarvis (Cambridge), Peter
Osborne (Middlesex), Doina Petrescu (Sheffield), and Anthony Vidler (Cooper
Union, NY).

Previous Westminster English Colloquia include: 'Reading Paul de Man'; 'Art
Demanding Community'; 'The Culture and Philosophy of Comedy'; and 'Forgotten
Voices of the Twentieth Century'. The most recent events in this series were
'Adorno and Literature' and 'Literature and Photography'.

These latter have both been developed as expanded volumes: Cunningham and Mapp
(eds.), Adorno and Literature, Continuum 2006; Cunningham, Fisher, Mays (eds.),
Twentieth Century Literature and Photography, CSP 2005.

The colloquium will be held in mid June 2006. Papers (of up to 45 minutes) or
abstracts of (of up to 500 words) should be delivered via email as Word
attachments by the end of the 26th of March 2006, along with a brief CV. The
colloquium is able to reimburse speakers for refreshments on the day and
national travel, but would welcome submissions from international speakers who
will be in the UK around the time of the event.

Please direct any correspondence or enquiries to:

Dr. Sas Mays
English, Linguistics and Visual Culture
University of Westminster
London, England

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Received on Fri Feb 24 2006 - 11:28:01 EST