April 2-3, Appreciation in the Academy Conference at the University of Wyoming

full name / name of organization: 
Steve Norton; University of Wyoming
contact email: 

Announcing the call for papers for a graduate conference on appreciation and critique: on April 2ndand 3rd, 2011. The University of Wyoming Department of English will be hosting an academic conference for graduate students of all disciplines to present papers and articles on the interplay of appreciation and criticism.
Whether one writes, dissects, or analyzes literature, an appreciation of the artifact of analysis is compulsory. In other words, the appreciation of a work of literature is the impetus for analysis — it is the fuel which powers critical inquiry. However, 'appreciation' need not necessarily imply a high level of praise. Indeed, the word carries the connotations of appraisal, understanding, and recognition. If we take 'appreciation' to connote these concepts, it starts to look as if 'appreciation' may be the result of critical analysis, rather than its impetus.
This conference is an opportunity to investigate the positive as well as the negative possibilities of appreciation. Because 'appreciation' may connote an appraisal which is potentially hostile, we recognize that not only the love of literature, but also an ambivalence or even animosity toward literature may be complicit in the impetus which drives critical inquiry. Consider, for instance, a postcolonial critique of Heart of Darkness. In such a case, it is animosity toward an artifact, a sort of negative 'appreciation', which spurs analysis.
Finally, we are hosting this conference because we want to explore the idea that both praise and condemnation are inadequate if they are not accompanied by critical inquiry. Likewise, we believe that critical inquiry, if bereft of passion, will be empty and lifeless.

For Creative Writers:

In addition to academic criticism, we are also interested in creative responses to the call for papers. Fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and hybrid genres will be considered. Submitted work should demonstrate the idea of appreciation in one of two ways—either through content or the structure of the piece. Both are open to a broad interpretation. For content-driven pieces, we expect the narrative to explore themes of appreciation, criticism, inquiry, etc. We will also consider work that attempts to illustrate such concepts through innovative structural decisions. Engaging with this type of piece should challenge the reader in some way—it should ask for recognition and appreciation of the artistic moves employed. Again, such analysis required by the reader need not result in a positive reaction.