Department of Germanic Languages @ Columbia University
Text & Partisanship
A 2-DAY INTERDISCIPLINARY GRADUATE STUDENT CONFERENCE
TO BE HELD AT DEUTSCHES HAUS COLUMBIA
APRIL 3RD & 4TH 2009
CALL FOR PAPERS FROM GRADUATE STUDENTS IN THE US AND ABROAD
SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACTS BY FEBRUARY 1ST
“Polemics defines alliances, recruits partisans, unites interests or opinions, represents a party; it establishes the other as an enemy, an upholder of opposed interests against which one must fight until the moment this enemy is defeated and either surrenders or disappears.” (Michel Foucault, Polémique, politique et problématisations)
The first decade of the new millennium has shown that a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of partisan rhetorical strategies is still available to postmodern public discourse. While the postmodern turn had intellectuals celebrate différance, dissemination, off-centeredness, absence, etc., the current rhetoric of partisanship, most evident in the media and in politics, still operates with assumptions of totality, presence and selectivity.
To talk about partisanship in reference to texts - critical as well as literary - means to expose an agenda in their mode of address, their style of argument or their function in a specific historical or theoretical context. Partisan texts assume a hybrid stance between pamphlet and theoretical argument, between a public declaration making manifest the will of a dissenting collective and a charter dramatically inaugurating yet another avant-garde. For modernity, it is functionally differentiated society (Luhmann, Elias) against which an exemplary text such as the Communist Manifesto performs its argumentative labor of undoing differentiations.
Aside from the manifesto, genres such as the polemic and the apology come to mind; more concrete examples might include anything from Plato’s Apology of Socrates, Luther’s Von der Freyheith eines Christenmenschen, Lessing’s Laokoon, Schiller’s lecture on the Schaubühne, Schlegel’s Gespräch über die Poesie, Wordsworth & Coleridge’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Kleist’s Die Hermannschlacht, Heine’s Die romantische Schule, Büchner’s Der hessische Landbote, Nietzsche’s Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie, Marinetti’s Manifesto del Futurismo, Hugo Ball’s Dadaistisches Manifest, Breton’s Manifeste du Surréalisme, Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus Dessau, Aimé Césaire’s Discours sur le Colonialisme and Pablo Neruda’s Canto General to Lars von Trier’s Dogme 95, or Gayatri Spivak’s Critique of Postcolonial Reason. Further examples might derive from such contexts as literature engagée, the debates within literary groups and generations or the genres of literary lectures and speeches.
In our conference, we hope to address issues such as: how particular models of authorship inform or are informed by partisan writings; which strategies are explicitly or implicitly employed to disclose or conceal partisanship; whether or not the semantics of partisanship necessarily conflicts with the literariness of a given text (is there a poetics of partisanship?); which strategies of inclusion or exclusion are employed in these texts, i.e. which differentiations they presuppose; what type of audience is being addressed, what model of publicity is suggested by the text. Can and will a partisan text ever reflect on the positionality of its own observations? Can it be differentiated from other texts by not being able to do so at all? Are partisan texts necessarily dated? What distinguishes those that have an afterlife from those that do not?
For the purpose of addressing these and related questions we encourage submissions from graduate students in relevant fields, including philosophy, comparative literature, classics, film, theater & media studies, cultural studies, gender studies, anthropology, architecture, history & art history. Please submit a substantial abstract of about 500 words, including your name and institution, by February 1st 2009 to the organizers: Alexis Radisoglou, Arthur Salvo, Alexander von Thun, and Patrick Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information will be made available on our website: http://www.lrc.columbia.edu/textandpartisanship/index.html.
Department of Germanic Languages, Columbia University
319 Hamilton Hall, MC 2812
1130 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
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