Call for Proposals: “Under the Influence: Politics and the Currency of Literature”
Second Annual Brooklyn College Graduate English Conference
April 18, 2009, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY
Keynote Speaker: Simon Critchley
Professor Critchley, Chair of Philosophy at The New School, has written on a wide variety of themes and authors, most recently on ethical and political theory, the relation between poetry and philosophy, and the nature of humor. At present, he is working on Rousseau, Heidegger, Ibsen, Beckett, Pessoa, and Levinas.
Beware! The time approaches when human beings will no longer give birth to a dancing star. . . . “What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?”—thus asks the last human being, blinking. (Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
A book exists only through the outside and on the outside. A book itself is a little machine; what is the relation (also measurable) of this literary machine to a war machine, love machine, revolutionary machine, etc.—and an abstract machine that sweeps them along? (Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus)
The concept of influence is as pervasive and problematic as the diverse phenomena that the word influence is now used to signify. Rooted in the pre-modern recognition of astral effects, influence touches upon mostly ‘invisible’ relations: consciousness and world; the production of social effects, moral authority, and ethical responses; the peddling of political contacts; and the divination of spiritual and hermetic principles. Indeed, it is possible that influence has never been more influential, that influence is now an object of maximal belief and desire, perhaps all the more so in the absence of a proper understanding of what influence is, or more radically, in the face of the dizzying impossibility of such an understanding, in the stupefying spectacle of a world so teeming with influences (real, imagined, both) that the concept becomes both inevitable and impossible.
This conference proposes to address the nature of influence, and the influence of influence, at the nexus of literature and politics. Particularly welcome are papers that address the issue of being under the influence as it pertains to literary affect and pleasure, political agency, and to how the currency of literature—its prevalence as an accepted form of language-art; its cultural flow among institutions, power-structures, and individuals; its emergence as a token for tradition and canonization—signifies an effective exchange.
Related questions: What are the political actualities and potentialities of literature’s currency? What is influence? Is influence the in-spiration of the Zeitgeist? The “invisible hand” of the market? The cosmological fortune-giving of Prospero’s “auspicious star”? The influx of Joyce’s “streamsbecoming”? How is influence exerted? And how can we describe its transmission? Moreover, how is literature influenced and made possible by other discourses, such as philosophy, science and mathematics, and how are they influenced by literature?
• Literary experience as intoxication
• Capitalism, consumerism, and textual value
• Satire and political intimacy
• Media and the spaces of influence (markets, news, fashion, cyberspace, hyperreality, et al)
• Authorship, authority, and anxieties of influence
• Literary labor as private cogitation and public obligation
• Transnational and postcolonial literary politics
• The book and the specialization of knowledge
• Politics of acquisition: orality and literacy
• Radicalism: theory and practice of the avant-garde
• Literary politicians: Anti-intellectualism and populism
• Mainstream and counterinfluence
Abstracts of no more than 300 words are due February 22, 2009.
Send them by Word attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Patkowski, Graduate Deputy Chair
Brooklyn College, CUNY
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210
718 951 5195 Email: email@example.com
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