The Atlas Project
Call for Papers for the Group Session,
The Atlas Project
The International Comparative Literature Association Conference
July 21st 2016 – July 27th 2016
University of Vienna, Austria
Witnessing how capitalism vulgarized and reduced complex relations to a banal iconography, a poet once expressed a sense of disappointment at the massive inarticulation among the educated, including writers and teachers who have the relative freedom to describe what they witness without sacrificing rational nuance. Her concerned remark twinges my heart because it mirrors the image of me, a silent intellectual who would click the mouse to read the current worldwide news of terrorism, regional wars, religious strife, genocides, and so on and then move on to my daily scholarly life in dead silence, feeling caged in the narrowing corridor of a national university.
However, witnessing the Sewolho Ferry (世越號) Disaster which took away the innocent lives of 250 South Korean high school students on April 16th 2014 and reading the world news of the death of hundreds of refugees from the war zones in the Mediterranean Sea, I'd like to invite scholars of poetry to probe what poetry can do to recover 'the human' in the age of IOT (Internet of Things). Although we are marked as digital avatars and although the very zones of our feelings and relationships are invaded by a flood of virtual information, I think we still have the hunger for the actual emotional connection with other human beings and the desire for exploring the humanly possible that no consumption of virtual commodities can satisfy. Then, what we scholars can do is to dive into the wrecked humanity and look for the evidences of the humanly possible by asking the human questions again in a new way.
Certainly, poets in any history and place have explored the human questions, interrogated the power of language, and chosen to break the silence. Like them, we can choose to speak up from the perspective of writers and teachers. We can choose to write how poetry has not only satisfied our emotional needs but also helped us keep alive in the time of danger, disaster, and tragedy.
This project is not trying to iconize anything but to encourage us to become one small persistent dot, wishing to make an atlas of the difficult world and to take up a difficult task of forming IOH (Internet of Humans) despite the differences in races, histories, and cultures. This may be one of the humanly possible we can do, at least, here and now.
If you are interested in this project and like to present your ideas in my group session, please send your abstract to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 10th 2015.