Economies of Entitlement and Complicity [ACLA 2021]
This seminar for the 2021 annual conference of the American Comparative Literature Association investigates the intersections and divergences among literary, sociocultural, and political-economic species of entitlement and the mechanisms of complicity that perpetuate them. It examines intertwined modes of domination and exploitation including, but not limited to:
-overtly predatory forms of droit du seigneur; Sadean (and sadistic) forms of aristocratic sexual predation; white supremacist and toxic masculinities; systems of slavery and servitude; and the “pornotropological” rhetorics and practices (identified by Hortense Spillers) that pathologize black and brown bodies; and
-the obscured psychic and structural mechanisms through which complicity with unjust systems operates; the (in)actions of beneficiaries (Bruce Robins), bystanders (Robert Meister), spectators (Luc Boltanski), or implicated subjects (Michael Rothberg) that legitimate, normalize and reinforce those systems or strive to respond to or resist them; and the costs and benefits of recognizing one’s complicity in systemic violence and oppressive structures of entitlement. This seminar explores entitlement and complicity through literary and theoretical texts from multiple linguistic and cultural traditions, as well as through other cultural artifacts, social media, historical records, and visual cultures.