The Neglected Pillar: Comedy in Literature and Culture (November 28-29, 2014), abstract deadline: August 15, 2014

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4th International Conference on Literary and Cultural Studies, The Department of English, National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan
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Dying is easy. Comedy is hard. -- Old Theater Adage (Edmund Kean)

Despite being the subject of Aristotle's second major work on poetics, an essential element of psychoanalysis's understanding of the unconscious, and getting the final word in Hegel's history of aesthetics, Comedy nonetheless remains somewhat neglected and ever in the shadow of Tragedy. Comedy is less theorized, less acclaimed, and in many periods much less respected. (Even Chaucer, its greatest early practitioner in English, apologizes for and retracts from the genre in the end.) Yet Comedy is one of the central pillars of Western aesthetics, which Tragedy alone cannot sustain. This conference will explore the nature, history, and structure of the comic in its varied manifestations across time and aesthetic genres and academic disciplines. One question is how the comic balances, escapes from, problematizes, refutes or rephrases the values and principles of the tragic. We want to examine Comedy's social, aesthetic, and philosophical place (e.g. Bakhtin, Baudelaire, Bergson, Freud) in our culture in the present and in the past.
We invite proposals on humor and comedy from all periods of literary history and across the range of humanities disciplines. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

Theorizing the comic: comedy and critical theory
Carnival and comedy
Black humor: death and the comic
The psychology of humor and jokes
Translating comedy
Non-Western comedies
Pedagogy and humor: the challenge of teaching comedy from different cultures and times
How humor has changed over time: comedy past, present, transhistorical
Comedy across the genres: different jokes for different genres?
Satire and parody
Comedy on stage
Divine comedy vs. human comedies
The structure of comedy
Manifestations of the comic: jokes, physical comedy, and caricature
The absurd
Wits and rakes: wit vs. judgment in eighteenth-century aesthetics
Religion and humor
Wartime humor
Inappropriate material: the limits and ethics of the comic
Conservative and transformative comedy
The wisdom of fools: comic philosophers and philosopher comics

Keynote Speakers:
Professor Jeremy Tambling
Professor Leland de la Durantaye

Jeremy Tambling is a writer and critic. He retired at the end of 2013 as Professor of Literature at Manchester University. Before that, he was Professor of Comparative Literature in the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of several books, the latest being Hölderlin and the Poetry of Tragedy: Readings in Sophocles, Shakespeare, Nietzsche and Benjamin (Sussex Academic Press, 2014).

Leland de la Durantaye is Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College in California, and before that, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of English at Harvard University. He is the author of Style is Matter: The Moral Art of Vladimir Nabokov (Cornell University Press, 2007) and Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction (Stanford University Press, 2009), and is the translator of Jacques Jouet's Upstaged (Dalkey Archive, 2011). In addition to his academic work he has written on literature, philosophy and the visual arts for The New York Times, The London Review of Books, The Village Voice, Bookforum, The Believer, Cabinet, The Harvard Review and other newspapers and magazines.

Please email 250-300 word abstracts by August 15, 2014 to:

Abstracts should include name and affiliation, email address, postal address, and telephone number. Participants will be notified by September 15. The deadline for the submission of the completed papers is October 30.

Important Dates:

Submission Deadline: August 15, 2014
Acceptance Notification: September 15, 2014
Completed Paper Submission: October 30, 2014
Conference Date: November 28-29, 2014