deadline for submissions: 
December 16, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Program in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University

The Rutgers Program in Comparative Literature Graduate Student Conference: 





Prof. Ana María Ochoa, Tulane University

Prof. Karen Redrobe, University of Pennsylvania


March 3, 2023


Call for Papers:

The dilemma of Comparative Literature to imagine a positive, cosmopolitan collective has invited reflections on alternate ways of forging connectivity, through closer attention to materiality, embodiment, and the precarity of human and non-human life. This leads us to consider not only production, circulation, and consumption, but also the unproductive, the remains, and the disintegrated. We encounter the process of decomposition in many ways, from entanglement with fossil fuel and waste, to the worms and bacteria that enliven the soil, to texts and sounds that are made and unmade. (De)composition implies both a dissolution and the potential for other forms to emerge. The critical examination of (de)composition reflects on the intersection between subject and object, material and immaterial, nature and culture, voice and text, representation and the unrepresentable. It harbors the possibility to ground a different relationality in response to the crises and polarizations of the contemporary era.

How does (de)composition challenge literary studies to engage differently with the material and symbolic assemblages that we compare and critique? Can (de)composition unearth configurations of text and sound, genre, and style? What transformations and mediations does it gesture towards? How does a critical engagement with (de)composition affect our current notions of energy and sustainability in the Anthropocene? How does (de)composition give us better insight into the connection between human history and alternate timescales? What feelings and affects move through us when confronted with the process of (de)composition?

Possible lines of investigation:

  • Mutable and unstable texts
  • Fragments, archives, ruins
  • Voice, silence/noise, soundscapes
  • Sensation, technologies, mediation
  • Decadence and decline
  • Trauma and memory
  • Negativity, abjection, disidentification
  • Post-industrial land and legacy
  • Disasters and resilience
  • Resistance and care
  • Post-colonial remains, decolonial relationalities
  • Agency and animacy
  • Bodies, vulnerability, disability 


The conference will be held in person on March 3, 2023 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Participants are expected to submit a full paper after acceptance for in-depth discussion. If interested, please send an abstract with working title (up to 300 words) and bio (up to 100 words) to rucomplitconference@gmail.com by December 16, 2022. Selected participants will be notified of their acceptance by January 6, 2023 and should submit the full paper by February 10.

Papers will be circulated in advance among all the participants and will be discussed with students, faculty, and keynote speakers. Attendees are expected to read their fellow panelists’ papers before the conference.

This conference is organized by Milan Reynolds (milan.reynolds@rutgers.edu) and Xingming Wang (xw367@rutgers.edu), with the support of the Program in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.


Sponsored by the Center for African Studies, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures, the Department of American Studies, the Department of German, Russian, and East European Languages and Literature, and the School of Graduate Studies.