American Comparative Literature Association Annual Convention, Long Beach, CA, 4/24/08-4/27/08
Panel on Human Rights and/in Global Literary Production
As evidenced by scholarly production, major conferences, and course offerings, the interdisciplinary pairing of human rights and literature has gained necessary momentum since 2001. This seminar explores global literatures of human rights through both theory and pedagogic praxis. We are particularly interested in the productive potential of movement between human rights and literary discourses. If there is a danger that, in Upendra Baxi’s words, “human rights…is a moral language (like those of ‘social justice’, ‘equality’, and ‘redistribution’) that is simply exhausted,” how might literary discourses reinvigorate it? And if “education in the Humanities attempts to be an uncoercive rearrangement of desires” (Spivak), what are we teaching (for) when we teach literature and/of human rights?
Possible questions to consider may include: How do we define “human rights” as an approach to global literary production? How do we negotiate, theoretically or pedagogically, the relationship between the literary subject and the subject who bears rights? How are human rights and literary narratologies related? How do we incorporate critiques of human rights and its link to Western imperialism into our approaches? How are the material conditions of the production and circulation of global literatures and rights related? What are the practical questions we must address to make this disciplinary pairing work in scholarship and in the classroom? Why and how is this theoretical and methodological approach significant in our contemporary historical moment?
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