ACLA 2016 "Performance, Poetics, and Publics"

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American Comparative Literature Association, March 17-20, 2016
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This seminar seeks papers that interrogate, trouble, and (re)articulate the interrelations of performance, poetics, and community within a critical hemispheric lens. Papers that examine how publics enacted through poetry and/in performance can potentially reaffirm, realign, and reorganize themselves out from the obfuscations of contemporary living are particularly welcome. Critical footholds for such deciphering include Paolo Virno, who calls attention to the ways that contemporary life unfolds through the concealment of poiesis and the spectacle of communication; David Harvey, who, in Spaces of Hope, offers a crucial analysis of the persistent re-emergence of nineteenth century models of modernity as well as an elaboration of "militant particularisms" as possibly non-exploitative, radically open models for cultural formations, exchanges, and subjectivities; and Édouard Glissant, who details a poetics of relation that emerges from the abyss of modernity as an "open totality evolving upon itself."

In order to map these critical footholds, this seminar seeks papers that remain attentive to what Diana Taylor, in The Archive and the Repertoire, calls "performáticos": "scenarios that do not reduce gestures and embodied practices to narrative description" (16). Taylor provides a model for dismantling categorical over-representations and overly theorized applications of "a public," which might be further characterized epistemologically by any taxonomy of terms, texts, or history. Working at the intersection of Virno, Glissant, and Harvey's elaborations of neoliberalism and Taylor's crucial insight that cultural formations exceed the archive and the nation, this seminar intends to unpack the historical stakes of concealment as well as the imperialist impulses of modernity as the modes of production substantiating social reality in the so-called west. This seminar's examination of poetry and/in performance—as constitutive of publics and constituted by the ways publics are formed, obfuscated, or otherwise intellectualized—seeks to challenge the disciplinary regiments of the contemporary moment by mapping the diversity of forms through which poetic articulation and expression enact community voices in meaningful yet open-ended registers.

Please send 300-word abstracts by September 23, 2015 to John Hyland at