Allegory and Futurity: Prophesy, Eschatology, and the Possibilities of Political Subversion

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Macy McDonald / University at Buffalo
contact email: 

We are proposing the following CFP for ACLA 2021, which will be held virtually.

Allegories reveal political challenges by reading contemporary issues through encoded histories and imagined futures. In "Figura," Eric Auerbach posits that something “real and historical” from the past “announces” the coming of a future embedded in the figure. While, for Auerbach, the figural play prophesizes a future to come, for Walter Benjamin, the allegorical impulse is eschatological. He writes “If other forms shine resplendent as on the first day, this form captures the image of the beautiful as on the very last.” Thus, for both thinkers, allegory has a special relationship to time. In this seminar, we wish to develop a discussion on the degrees of political agency we hold with regards to a future time that allegory projects. Is the future pre-written in the past events, as Auerbach posits; is an allegory the image of the end of time, as Benjamin argues; or, alternatively, is there a kind of political involvement with the future that allegorical modes of thinking allow? This concern with futurity and political action coincides with the double bind within which law captures the body in biopolitics. We invite proposals that seek to engage with the role of political action in futurity that is seemingly already embedded in the past. The mode of inquiry could either be a literary reading of allegorical texts and their relationship to a future time and/or theoretical inroads into types of tropological power/s involved in subverting figural meanings.

Please follow this link to submit your <350 word abstract: