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Shapeshifters: Recycling and Literature (April 25-26, 2014)
full name / name of organization:
Yale University, Department of Comparative Literature
SHAPESHIFTERS: Recycling and Literature
Sponsor: Yale University, Department of Comparative Literature
“If you want me again look for me under your boot soles.” Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
From Ovid to Ammons, writers have been fascinated by the physical transformation of material and the recycling of form. The very first line of The Metamorphoses reads, “I want to speak about bodies changed into new forms,” while A. R. Ammons in Sphere writes, “Things go away to return, brightened for the passage.” What is it about atoms and restless change that has attracted writers as diverse as Lucretius and Whitman? What does it mean to think of recycling as a form of desire? Or is the very idea of converting waste inimical to desire?
The students of the Department of Comparative Literature at Yale University present the annual interdisciplinary conference on literary and critical theory. The conference will be held Friday and Saturday, April 25-26, 2014 in celebration of Earth Day. Our conference will examine themes related to the aesthetics of recycling as well as issues of regeneration, originality, rhetorics of re-use, New Materialism, literary history, and adaptations of form and genre. Both faculty and graduate students will jointly participate.
We welcome papers from all periods discussing recent developments in critical theory on the relationship between textual and artistic practices and theories of matter. We envisage panels on the recycling of literary material and aesthetic precesses as well as the problem of originality and authorship. For example, what does it mean for Anne Carson to reclaim Catullus’ elegy in Nox or for James Merrill to re-fashion Dante in Divine Comedies?
“Shapeshifters” also looks to generate discussion on the intersection between literary studies and environmentalist and technoscientific discourses. What, for instance, are the implications of Karen Barad’s inquiry into Niels Bohr’s atomic theory and Bohr’s collapsing of the “inherent distinction between subject and object, knower and known?” Our conference seeks rigorous literary and critical scholarship covering all genres, periods and languages with the potential to shift the shape of our thinking about literary studies and recycling.
Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Genre and periodization