Unidentifiable Literary Objects: A symposium

deadline for submissions: 
June 28, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Nottingham Trent University
contact email: 

On 29 June 2018, the Critical Poetics Research Group at Nottingham Trent University will host a symposium on the ‘Unidentifiable Literary Object’. Speakers include: Clare Connors (University of East Anglia), Marie-Dominique Garnier (University of Paris VIII), Laurent Milesi (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Nicholas Royle (University of Sussex), Judith Still (University of Nottingham), Sarah Wood (University of Kent). We hope that Hélène Cixous and Eric Prenowitz (University of Leeds) will also be able to join us via Skype.

In H.C. pour la vie, c’est a dire… (2000/2006) Jacques Derrida describes his first reading of Hélène Cixous’s writing as an encounter with an ‘unidentifiable literary object’ [objet littéraire non identifiable] or ‘ULO’: ‘What is this? I asked myself more or less. What is happening here? What is happening to me? What genre? Who could ever read this?’ The ULO ‘arrived like a meteor in my garden’, he remarks elsewhere, recalling the ‘double feeling’ of ‘dazzlement and anxiety’ it engendered (‘From the Word to Life’, 2004/2006). The ULO is, of course, the domain of both Derrida and Cixous: their texts stretch genre, press at the limits of creative and critical thinking, and open up the differences between constative and performative modes of writing. This symposium aims to explore the nature and possibilities for such unidentifiable literary objects, bringing together the work of writers and scholars whose own texts play at the intersections between creative and critical theory and practice.

The symposium will conclude with a public reading and conversation with Gabriel Josipovici, described in the Guardian as ‘one of the very best writers now at work in the English language, and a man whose writing, both in fiction and in critical studies, displays a unity of sensibility and intelligence and deep feeling difficult to overvalue at any time’.

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