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Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford University


4th Annual Graduate Conference
Friday April 30-Saturday May1, 2010
Department of Comparative Literature
Stanford University

Call for Papers

"Me from Myself, to vanish
had I art,
Impregnable my fortress,
of all heart
And since myself attacked me,
how have I peace,
except by subjugation consciousness,
And since we are mutual monarch,
how this be,
except by abdication,
me to me"

-Emily Dickinson

The tension between shock and introspection has played a crucial role in our culture, informing our understanding of historical, psychological, artistic, and epistemological processes.
As we turn the century, multiplied, digitalized, globalized, worried about survival, are we turning "forward"? "inward"? do we stand motionless? How do different theories of introspection and shock over the centuries inform our current moment in time within literary studies and the arts?

In the historical or critical perspective, shock has often been identified in terms of a consciousness of a discontinuity: a break with tradition, a feeling of novelty, of vertigo in the face of the passing moment. At the same time, introspection as a self-reflective move has forged human creation over the centuries. From Aristotle's identity principles to the Renaissance' shift of poetic subjectivity to the fragmentation of the self in modern poetry and contemporary narrative, introspection has been a response to a changing reality and to the place of the self in literature and the arts.
If we agree that modernity has continually challenged people's capacity to adapt to an ever-changing environment, then we can consider how introspection and critical
self-reflection encounter new technologies which promote distraction and entertainment, such as film, advertisements, bestsellers, and in our time through digital media and the internet. In these new media, does the rapid stream of images and words allow room for introspective thought? If so, how has literature coped with such changes?
As we acknowledge the inseparable dialectical relationship between shock and introspection, we ponder whether introspection and shock are binaries or complements.
Does shock promote an introspective turn? Can shock be an aesthetics of instrospection? Have we turned the mirror to the world or to ourselves?

We propose a reflection on how movements of introspection or shock have touched ground in the form of artistic creation across the perspective of several disciplines, and upon various literary and artistic expressions from different historical periods.

Papers might focus on the following topics, but are not limited to these:

• Autonomy vs. Deautonomization of the Art work
• Multicultural Aesthetics, Introspection and Transnationalism
• Sociology of literature and art
• Subjectivities, Trauma and Shock
• Distraction and concentration
• Inward Turns, Self-reflective narratives
• Critique and Entertainment
• Mirrors, Self-reflections and Emotional travels
• Shock and Exile
• Constructions/Destructions of Self
• Life in Literature (BioLiterature)
• Avant-garde vs. Romanticism - Poetics of Opposition
• Memory as narrative
• Shock value in Art
• Literature and Technology
• Introspection in Book and Film Cultures
• Inner Worlds and The Fantastic
• Shock and the Body

We are therefore inviting all graduate students interested in the project to submit proposals for a 20 minute talk by sending an abstract of no more than 250 words as an attachment to: shockandintrospection@gmail.com.

Deadline for submission of abstract is January 24, 2010.

You will be notified if your proposal has been accepted no later than February 24, 2010 and we would like to have confirmation from those whose submissions have been accepted no later than March 10, 2010.

Thank you for your participation.