Transgression and Its Limits 29-30th May 2010

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University of Stirling
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Transgression and its Limits

29-30th May 2010
University of Stirling

Plenary Speaker:
Professor Fred Botting
Reading followed by Q&A Session:
Iain Banks

To discover the complete horizon of a society's symbolic values, it is also necessary to map out its transgressions, its deviants ~ Marcel Détienne.

Rule-breaking has always been a central aspect of literary and cultural development. The works of Marquis de Sade, William Burroughs and Kathy Acker help define the canon of transgressive fiction, while Bakhtin, Bataille and Foucault have become its philosophers and apologists. From the law-breaking obscenity of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover to the immoralilty of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, transgressive art has offended the old order for the sake of a new.

The commodification of extreme horror in recent movies and the faux-antagonism of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk both reveal the paradox of a transgression which has now established its own conventions. Is transgression more than the tradition of subverting tradition? Have the conditions of post-modernity exhausted our ability to be shocked?

The aim of this conference is to provide an interdisciplinary forum to consider transgressive tactics in literature, film, critical theory and other cultural productions. To what extent has transgression helped shape sexual, cultural and artistic landscapes of its own period? We invite abstracts for 20-minute papers focusing on transgressive, taboo-breaking and politically resistant acts in literature and the arts.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):
§ Violence
§ Profanity
§ The Sacred
§ Sexuality and the body
§ Obscenity and pornography
§ Aberrance, Fetish, Perversion
§ The New Horror – 'torture porn'
§ Avant-garde cinema, Cinema of Transgression
§ The Carnivalesque
§ Gender roles
§ Censorship – cultural reactions to transgressive texts
§ Violence against the text – formal/textual transgression
§ Postmodernism's transgression of the high/low cultural divide

Please send a 300-word abstract and a 50-word biography to Aspasia Stephanou, Matthew Foley and Neil McRobert at by March 19th 2010.