USC Graduate Symposium: Dreaming Archives: Materiality, Spectrality, and Transcultural Memory

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture PhD Group

Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture (CSLC) Annual Symposium
Dreaming Archives: Materiality, Spectrality, and Transcultural Memory

University of Southern California
February 22nd and 23rd, 2023

Keynote Speaker:

Jenny Sharpe is a professor of English, Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at the
University of California, Los Angeles. Her work focuses on postcolonial studies, Caribbean
literatures, and gender studies. In her research, she centers Black female perspectives to
challenge dominant modes of theorizing the archive and facilitate new understandings of
postcolonial memory. The author of influential texts such as Allegories of Empire: The Figure of
Woman in the Colonial Text (1993) and Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archeology of Black
Women’s Lives (2002), her third book project, titled Immaterial Archives: An African Diaspora
Poetics of Loss (2020), examines Afro-Caribbean art and literature’s deployment of dreams,
spirits, and the immaterial in order to reconceptualize archival practice and notions of the


Dreaming Archives: Materiality, Spectrality, and Transcultural Memory

In a moment characterized by both the effacement of histories – stories lost to circumstances
ranging from displacement and climate crisis to book bans and censorship – as well as by an
excess of digital information, what is the role of the archive and its specters? What role can new
strategies of archival praxis play in the recovery, speculation, or fabulation of stories already
lost? What are the material and immaterial stakes of such approaches? Perhaps there are
emergent modes better equipped to enable the transmission of memory or the recovery of lost
histories, modes still in the process of being considered, imagined, or indeed, dreamed. Our
graduate symposium proposes to explore relationships between the archive, communal loss,
memory, and memory-making. We invite submissions from scholars from across the arts,
humanities, and social sciences who would like to join us as we think through the stakes and
potentialities of dreaming the archive across transcultural frontiers. We also welcome and
encourage proposals from thinkers, artists, and writers who work at the intersection of creative
and scholarly practices.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• Reimagining archival centers and peripheries
• Comparing historical and transhistorical approaches to archives
• Considering questions of communal memory and cultural identity
• Cultural hybridity and métissage
• Memory and the archive in translation
• Identity and memory
• The archive and digital media, data collection, and mass surveillance
• Revaluation of contemporary canons and notions of canonicity
• Archiving receptional and reader-response practices
• Revealing blindspots in critical approaches to archival materials
• Materiality and immateriality
• Spirits and the spectral
• Diasporic and indigenous forms of knowledge and memory-making
• New materialist, ecological, and affective approaches to the archive
• Postcolonial and decolonial approaches to memory and the archive
• Dreams and the oneiric, dreaming as archival praxis
• Interdisciplinary and/or creative interpretations of the theme (performances, live art, creative writing)

We welcome proposals focused on any time period, geographic location, and discipline. Paper
length should be of 15-to-20 minutes of a conference-style presentation, and we encourage the
use of digital technology (including PPT) to assist the presentation.

To be part of our conversation, send us an abstract of 300 words along with a short bio by
January 31, 2023.

Please send your questions and/or submissions to: