CFP for interdisciplinary seminar at the American Comparative Literature Association Conf. at Harvard University, March 28-31, 2009.
Diplomacy represents a particularly vivid example of the attempt to cope with difference and dispute through language. Throughout history, diplomats have been compared to linguists, poets, actors, and orators. (Indeed, from Petrarch, Philip Sidney, and Antoine Galland to Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Ferdinand Oyono, creative writers have often employed their literary talents in their roles as official envoys and statesmen.) This seminar proposes to explore the forms of language that serve in a more-or-less official capacity as agents of international or intercultural mediation. What might diplomacy teach us about language's potentialities and limitations in overcoming the estrangement of states, nations, or cultures? What kinds of language (including extra-linguistic modes of communication) have proved useful in creating a space for negotiation and reconciliation? Presenters are welcome to address these questions and related concerns from any and all geographical and historical perspectives. Possible topics might include the representation of diplomats in fiction and drama, the use of literature in various types of diplomatic exchanges (both political and cultural), rhetoric and diplomacy, the role of translation and translators in international politics, the intersection of literary careers and diplomatic careers, and the material and gestural languages of diplomacy (such as gift exchange). The panel particularly encourages contributions that examine, to some extent, the theoretical utility of diplomacy as a metaphor or model for comparativism. Submit your proposal at http://www.acla.org/submit/ and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
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