CFP: [General] ACLA 2008: Displacements of the War Itself (11/10/07; ACLA; 4/24-4/27/08

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Brian Thill
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American Comparative Literature Association
"Arrivals and Departures"
Long Beach, CA
April 24-27, 2008

Seminar: Displacements of the War Itself

There exists a long tradition of anti-war sentiment among literary and visual artists, theorists,
and intellectuals. Whatever the particular moral or political arguments offered in support of their
positions, a primary goal has been to illuminate the horrors of war. In developing a cultural
critique of the mechanisms of war and militarism, anti-war sentiment holds out the possibility
(albeit a slim one, in many cases) of bringing about a variety of changes, from individual readerly
consciousness to the shape of foreign policy. But as Foucault has argued, even the history of
peace and civil institutions is little more than a displacement of war itself, a coded war that
continues “beneath the law,” wherein “peace” merely covers over an unending relationship of
force typically most recognizable in the “blood and mud of battles.” With these two ideas in
mind, this panel begins with these questions: How might we read anti-war cultures alongside
such a definition of war, where war has no clear beginning or end, but is instead ongoing,
endless? In the era of the “war on terror,” should we revisit what an “anti-war” aesthetic or
polemic signifies in concrete terms? How have anti-war advocates defined the contours of war
itself? And is it enough for the opponent of war to demand an end to military operations, or
would even that particular departure not suffice? This panel will explore how and why anti-war
thinkers from all genres, and from a wide range of historical periods and cultural traditions, have
engaged with the problem of the wars beyond the wars themselves: from the Boer Wars to the
Thirty Years’ War, from Vietnam to Iraq.

To submit a proposal for this seminar, please visit Be sure to
select the title of this seminar in the scroll-down menu. The deadline for submissions is
November 10, 2007. Only electronic submissions via the ACLA conference website can be
accepted. If you have any questions please contact Brian Thill at bthill [at]

Brian Thill
University of California, Irvine

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Received on Wed Oct 17 2007 - 20:08:03 EDT