Transmutations and Translocations of the Absurd Post-Camus

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

ACLA 2018 Seminar Proposal

"Transmutations and Translocations of the Absurd Post-Camus"

Seminar organizer: Nozomi Irei

URL for submissions


In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus notes how Melville's Moby Dick is one
of the "truly absurd works" of literature (113). This designation is
in contrast to the other works that Camus also examines--Dostoevsky's
Demons, Kafka's works, among others. Despite Camus' implication that
absurd works are rare, the "absurd" very often simply becomes a
convenient label for any work that defies the audience's grasp, rather
than a work that resists the gesture to hope. Even as an accepted,
"legitimate" label, the "absurd" inadvertently seems to become tamed,
such as in Esslin's carefully constructed concept of the Theatre of
the Absurd. Nevertheless, if we take Camus seriously, we are still
faced with a question he presents regarding "absurd" creation
(literary, theatrical, philosophical): What is at stake in such
engagement with art if communication of experience does indeed seem
impossible (and ineffective)? This seminar invites papers that help to
revisit Camus' notion of the absurd and/or its related implications in
today's various contexts--literary, theatrical, theoretical,
philosophical, etc.,.

Examples of some problems might include the following:
Does the specificity of Camus' project, which he references in the
preface, situate the "absurd" in particular historical or cultural
contexts? Could we locate the absurd in non-western works?

If the absurd creation concerns a different relationship with time,
how might Deleuze and Guattari's notion of minor literatures and
becoming intersect with the "absurd"?

What are some implications of Camus' tacit appreciation of Nietzsche's
project as absurd, rather than merely existential? Are there
affinities with other thinkers, such as Blanchot, who also consider
Nietzsche's writings--and (all literary) writing, despite its
impossibility--as highly affirmative? Could chance be another name for
the "absurd"?

What are some other works that could be argued to be "truly absurd" in
Camus' sense of the term? Are his own fictional works "absurd"?
Alternatively, how might the premises implied in such a designation be