CFP: On Difficulty (7/15/06; Tufts, 10/20/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Amy E. Woodbury
contact email: 

18th Annual Tufts University English Graduate Organization Conference
Friday, October 20, 2006


Keynote Speaker: Lisa Lowe
Professor of Comparative Literature University of California, San Diego

Difficulty both privileges and excludes. As scholars, critics,
students, and educators, we struggle with difficulty and we flirt with
it. We revel in it and we strive to master it. At crucial times, we
even resist it. While difficult language and concepts can elevate a
conversation or expand a critical discourse, difficulty also erects
barriers and creates lines of division that are both literal and

This conference seeks to explore the value and the duplicity of
difficulty as the word is received and interpreted across a wide range
of disciplines, texts, and genres. It aims to explore the dynamic
between the complex and the simplified, and to consider the labor of
knowledge production alongside the wonder of the virtuoso performance.
What does it mean to experience difficulty? Is the most "difficult"
text the most revered? How do we teach or learn difficult material?
What kinds of difficulties do we encounter as individuals,
professionals, writers, academics, aesthetes, minorities, or gendered
subjects? Are there international divisions of difficulty? Can
difficulty be historicized? How does difficulty create or confine one's
sense of belonging? How are the difficult obstacles to knowing
otherness commonly figured or represented? Why does critical discourse
continue to concern itself with difficulty? Is there a use-value to
this concept? Is there pleasure in it? What kind of a compliment is
it to be "difficult"?

We encourage abstracts that explore and problematize the phrase "On
Difficulty" from a wide spectrum of fields and disciplines.

Topics may include but are not limited to:
Genre and identification
Race and legibility
Difficulty and modernity
Challenging the canon
The sublime
Politics of reading
The tangible and the intangible
Memory and trauma
Writer's block
Publishing and professionalization
Epistemologies of otherness
The problem of origins
Critique of theory
Power and resistance
The use value of difficulty
Alienation and nation-building
Sprezzatura: the art of seeming artless
Sophistication and vulgarity
Rhetorics of resistance

We are delighted to announce that our keynote speaker will be Lisa
Lowe, Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of
California, San Diego, and an affiliated faculty in the Department of
Ethnic Studies and the Program in Critical Gender Studies. Her research
and teaching interests include French, British and American studies and
the topic of Asian migration within European and American modernities.
Professor Lowe has published books and articles on orientalism,
immigration and globalization, and is the author of Critical Terrains:
French and British Orientalisms (Cornell UP, 1991), Immigrant Acts: On
Asian American Cultural Politics (Duke UP, 1996), and a forthcoming
book Metaphors of Globalization, and coeditor of The Politics of
Culture in the Shadow of Capital (Duke UP, 1997).

Please send a 1-2 page, double-spaced abstract outlining your paper or
presentation by July 15, 2006. Abstracts, including your name, email
address and phone number, should be sent to:
TEGO 2006 Graduate Conference: "On Difficulty"
Attn: Amy Woodbury
Tufts English Graduate Organization
Department of English
East Hall, 210
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155

You may also email your abstract as an attachment in Microsoft Word
format to Amy Woodbury at

For further information, please contact:
Amy Woodbury (
Cynthia Williams (

Sponsored by:
Tufts English Graduate Organization
Tufts University English Department
Tufts Graduate Student Council
Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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Received on Mon May 01 2006 - 08:48:28 EDT