Society for the Study of American Women Writers
Second International Conference, September 24-27, 2003
Zootropes, stereoscopes, radiography, praxinoscopes, radiography, and of course photography and cinematography: the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were replete with visual technologies that reconfigured both the materiality of viewing practices and what Walter Benjamin describes as the “optical unconscious.” This panel proposal for the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference (September 24-27, 2003) seeks to explore the relationship between visual technologies that emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the textual work of American women writers.
As Jonathan Crary has demonstrated, as early as 1820, the camera obscura model of vision—which corresponds to a single and definable point—collapses as a result technologies and scientific and philosophical inquiries into sight. Not only did vision change, but the composition of the observing subject radically transformed. The body, which had been excluded in the camera obscura model, became in Crary’s words, “a visual producer,” rendering distinctions between inner and outer, crucial for the camera obscura model, immaterial.
How does the work of American women writers engage with and manifest changes to the observing subject? How can these engagements and manifestations be read in relation to American women writers’ attempts to document women’s struggles for sexual, political, and psychological emancipation? How can visual technologies and scientific inquiries into vision contextualize and elucidate characteristics of literary texts such as narration, omniscience, evidence, knowledge, as well as representations of time, interiority, experience, subjectivity, and the body?
Please write a short (250-500 word) abstract and include it in the body of an e-mail addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com by January 20th. Questions and inquiries welcome. Every submission will receive a prompt reply.
Panelists must become members of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Information is available at our website.
School of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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