ACLA 2014: Canons, Counter-narratives, and Social Capital in Imagined Communities (Deadline: November 1, 2013)

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American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
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Benedict Anderson's 1983 study, Imagined Communities, explores how diverse peoples have been using literature (in particular, the novel) to construct and legitimize their national identities. Literature has provided a central means through which communal identity could be narrated and imagined; as such, it defined correlative personhood within distinct societies—rendering some narratives canonical in order to form and reinforce such claims, while excluding or "forgetting" counter-narratives.

Historically, the social capital derived from imagined communities has strategically used literature in order to benefit and legitimize particular visions of identity, strengthening claims of cultural, social and political authenticity. Though they seek to defy the dynamism inherent in identity narration, communities experience revisions to the canonical literature upon which they are grounded—most improbably by incorporating counter-narratives whose purpose had been to challenge, question or subvert the basis upon which they had previously been grounded.

This seminar will explore the ways that texts have informed, reformed or undermined the social capital of imagined communities (especially the colonial and post-colonial). What political circumstances are aligned to canon formation in such communities? How and why are canons violated, undermined and revised? Why is the relationship between canon, community and identity conceived as an iterative process? How are a community's narratives and canon adjusted to incorporate subversive narratives? Why are some counter-narratives incorporated and others rejected? Topics can include:

• Foundational fictions
• Canon formation
• Counter-narratives incorporated into canons
• Counter-narratives that resist incorporation
• Dynamism and the narration of community
• Transnational influences on imagined communities.

NYU is hosting ACLA 2014 over the weekend of March 20-23. Please submit paper proposals (max. 250 words) through ACLA's website and select this seminar from the drop-down list: Deadline: November 1, 2013.