[ACLA 2018] The Aesthetics and Theory of Repair [updated]

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

The Aesthetics and Theory of Repair

ACLA Seminar @ UCLA, 3/28-4/1/2018

Organizer: Michael Dango (University of Chicago)


Two decades after Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick first called for “reparative reading” to supplement or supplant a hermeneutics of suspicion, what are the uses, means, and ends of repair?  Within literary study, “reparation” has been a persistent touchstone in debates about how and why we read or should read, including turns to surface, descriptive, and “post-critical” reading.  What is the relation of repair to interpreting literature, history, and politics?  Beyond literary study, the reparative has stimulated work in a diversity of fields and disciplines, including a “weak theory” of ethnographic description that attempts to stay present to the surprising unfolding of a world not knowable in advance; and efforts at a “reparative geography” that can map a planet without assuming it is always already organized by neoliberalism and capitalism.  What practices of repair are sharable across social, historical, and disciplinary contexts?

This seminar invites papers that query the role, function, and application of repair and its conjugates: reparative, reparation.  Our aim is to zoom out to see the diversity of practices and methods within the category of repair, from reparations for slavery to reparative modes of criticism.  Allowing the word repair to mediate conversations from across fields and methods, the seminar hopes to address questions including the following:

  • What, today, are our primary objects of repair?  What are people trying to repair and how?
  • What is the relation between repair as a material and as an affective or cognitive process?
  • How does the metaphor of repair unite reading practices, political desires, and infrastructural realities?
  • What are the aesthetics and economics of repairing historical injury?
  • How is reparation practiced in a period of ongoing crisis and uncertainty?
  • Do contemporary political realities intensify the need for or militant against modes of reading that are beside or parallel to critique?
  • What is the relation between repairing and critiquing politics?
  • How does psychoanalysis motivate reparation, whether in the original Kleinian account cited by Sedgwick or in other varieties?
  • In what objects or categories of objects are we to find a reparative aesthetic?  What, for instance, is the relation of camp, privileged by Sedgwick as a paradigmatic reparative mode, to genealogies of resilience and repair?
  • Who practices repair, and when and why?  What is the relation between marginalization and repair?
  • What are the affects of repair, and how do surprise, hope, and longing organize or disorganize our understanding of the present?
  • What futures does reparation offer or foreclose for literary study?


Please e-mail questions to dango@uchicago.edu.Please submit abtsracts through the ACLA portal by September 20.