Representations/Re-presentations : Changing Cultural Landscapes
8th and 9th April 2010, Maison des Langues, Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3
CEMRA : Centre d’Etudes sur les Modes de la Représentation Anglophone (EA 3016)
This conference will broach the question of representation, applied notably to the domain of rewriting. The need to revisit and re-present the cultural landscapes of the past in order to rediscover their creative potential is undoubtedly one of the major characteristics of the postmodern period. This “crisis of representation”, as postmodernism has frequently been called, will be considered in three of its multiple expressions - theatrical, post-colonial and new gothic – whose very diversity is an indication of the theme’s interdisciplinary aspect. In each of these three areas, representations change over the centuries according to their individual specificity, yet the past is each time seen with a contemporary gaze, and thus reinvented. Within the context of a “changing cultural landscape” – namely, a later and inevitably altered period in time – the “original version” acts as a springboard which inspires the emergent representation. This common approach will serve as the pivotal focus for three workshops:
The changing landscape of contemporary theatre and drama may also be linked to the role of science and scientific discovery at three different levels. Firstly, it may be noted that science (even hard science) can be seen to figure at the heart of recent works written by well-established playwrights such as Caryl Churchill or Tom Stoppard. Secondly, scientific discovery continues to influence the way plays are written. Although it could be argued that there has always been a link between the written text and the context and conditions of performance, science and technology have played an important role in forging new dramatic forms, notably through the influence of the cinema. Furthermore, 20th century scientific theory increasingly offers the theatre new ways of looking at the world by focusing precisely on the contribution made by the observer/spectator. Finally, the developments of science and technology have revolutionised staging, making possible new readings and interpretations of dramatic texts. The workshop devoted to the theatre will attempt to tackle these three aspects of contemporary theatre.
"God is Blue" Representation and changing cultural codes in India or the basic instability inherent in representation:“How do cultural codes impose order on experience?" is one of the questions raised by Foucault in The Order of Things. This workshop proposes to take up Foucault's question, and apply it to colonial and post-colonial discourse, with India as corpus. The question is all the more pertinent as image criticism rarely, if ever, acknowledges the historical instability of cultural perceptions. Yet cultural representations always mediate reality through the received ideas of the given historical period in which they are conceived. This workshop aims to examine image mutations as historical markers change. For example; if World War II is taken as a temporal marker, even the Christian God is not exempt from the notion of historical instability. To the contrary of the pre-war era, obsessed by fixed identities, categories, boundaries, the post-war period tends to be concerned with fluid identities and boundary crossing. Thus, one finds Rushdie's Bishop in Midnight's Children explaining to a bewildered priest how to deal with the colour problem: "important to build bridges, my son. Remember', thus spake the Bishop, 'God is love; and the Hindu love-god, Krishna, is always depicted with a blue skin."
Just as Gothic was originally the product of a specific context, its manifold contemporary mutations may be seen as reflecting a changing cultural landscape, the source of new fears and anxieties. The classic devices of Gothic emerge in new settings, both alienating and alienated, and find their expression in hybrid narrative forms which reveal a new “horror of textuality” (Botting, Gothic, 1996). Duplicity, uncertainty or dissolving boundaries, which have always lain at the core of Gothic, are more relevant than ever at a time when the uncanny becomes « a metaphor for a fundamentally unlivable modern condition.» (Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny : Essays in the Modern Unhomely, 1992). In addition, scientific and technological progress both feeds the postmodern Gothic imagination, and fosters new fears which continue to haunt narratives. The aim of this workshop is therefore to consider, in contemporary British literature, the multiple manifestations of this sense of unease: the ongoing and ever-renewed representations of the strange.
Please send your proposals (300-350 words) before 22 January 2010 to:
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