Taking Drugs Literally — Troping the Human and Turning a Phrase

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English

A satirical post on a bulletin board in a hallway of a university arts building condemns the literary genius — citing Shakespeare, Coleridge, Yeats, Baudelaire, Poe, Hemingway, the Beats, and others — for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, proposing that we take anti-doping measures to cull the canon of those who would cheat at their craft.  Jesting aside, however, such satire points not only toward the near-ubiquity of psychotropic plant use to the literary imagination, but also to the cultural expectation placed upon the artist to trope, to turn the mind as well as the word.

Michel Foucault, in his “Lost Interview,” identifies the impetus of illicit drugs “to erase limits, to reject divisions, to put away all prohibitions, and then ask oneself the question, What has become of knowledge?”  This timely, experimental panel invites us to take drugs literally, answering Foucault’s question by addressing the culture-making properties of plants and drugs in relation to the literary text.  Papers may treat the licit — Atwood’s musings on birth control; DeLillo’s Dylar; Shakespeare’s “insane root”; Huxley’s Soma — or illicit — Burroughs’ heroin; Dick’s LSD; De Quincey’s opium; King’s cocaine — or the vast grey area (and matter) in between.  Drugs may include the fictional or factual, recreational or medicinal, literary representations or biographical accounts.

Contributions may want to address topics including, but not limited to addiction, drug and plant policy, cultivation and production, commoditization, medicine, biopolitics, psychedelia and ecodelia, countercultures, mysticism, sorcery, indigenous knowledges, orientalisms, madness, criminality and incarceration, phenomenology, transhumanism, posthumanism, plant-thinking, the neuro turn, or anything else to emerge from these ancient-yet-novel hybridisms.


Please send a file containing a 300- to 500-word proposal without personal identifying marks; a file containing a 100-word abstract and a 50-word biographical statement; and the 2017 Proposal Info Sheet available on the ACCUTE website to David Carruthers at environmentalhumanist@gmail.com by the November 1st deadline.