The Research Unit “Literary Relations and Post/national Identities” at K.U.Leuven is to launch a series of reading and discussion seminars on “ethos” and related concepts for young researchers. This series of seminars starts in Leuven in February 2012 and will result in a workshop at K.U.Leuven Kulak in Kortrijk on June 28 and 29, 2012. Both the seminars and the workshop are open to everyone who wants to reflect on the relevance and applicability of the concept.
The concept “ethos” has a long history that reaches back to the Aristotelian triad of ethos-pathos-logos. In the original sense “ethos” refers to the image a particular author develops discursively of him/herself. Yet this definition admits numerous variations. As the concept gains importance within the field of literary studies as well as in other disciplines (e.g. linguistics, sociology), there is a pressing need to confront the various perspectives and national traditions. The discourse-analytical approach of Ruth Amossy and Dominique Maingueneau, for instance, is in more than one respect complementary with the definition of “posture” as proposed by Jérôme Meizoz. More concretely, we ask ourselves how these different definitions, each of them with their own interpretation and range, can be linked together. Is it possible to think through the correlations between the different approaches? Or has the concept to be redefined within every discipline? Why is it that “ethos” is mainly used in French theory and literature? Are there any alternative or similar concepts in literary theory in other languages such as English or Spanish? And with regard to which genres is the term most frequently used (translations, political discourses, songs, novels, interviews, essays, testimonial literature, etc.)?
Moreover, we want to develop a more transparent definition of the concept “ethos” and transcend the often monocultural and monolingual approaches of the concept. More attention needs to be paid to intercultural (representation of the other, bivocality, polyphony), comparative and translational points of view (translational ethos, ethos of a multilingual author) as well as to the historical context. How does “ethos” take shape in different intercultural and translated discourses? In addition, we will discuss the generic specificity of the concept in great detail, by trying to find out whether “ethos” manifests itself differently in fictional and non-fictional texts.
The discussion seminars in Leuven will be organised as reading sessions in which we will deal with more theoretical texts as well as some case studies. The participants will receive these texts in advance. The final workshop in Kortrijk addresses particularly young researchers who are willing to give a presentation and to enter into a discussion on the subject with two keynote speakers (José-Luis Diaz and Dominique Maingueneau), but it can also be attended by a broader public. This workshop stems from the discussion seminars and intends to give (young) researchers the opportunity to contribute to the discussion by means of a more concrete case study. The papers are to be situated in one of the following areas:
1) ethos and language (translation, multilingualism and language variation), with particular attention to the (inter)cultural context in which the concept is used: how does the ethos of the translator relate to that of the original author? To what extent do institutional or more ample culture-specific factors play a role in the construction of an ethos? How does “ethos” manifest itself in the discourse of an author who is familiar with different languages and/or linguistic variations; and who is active at the intersection of different cultural systems?
2) ethos and genre, in which the question of generic specificity can be addressed: think of the relations and interactions between fiction and non-fiction, the definition of the concept “ethos” in the case of (auto)biographical texts or the construction of “ethos” in emergent literary systems and/or genres, as for instance the emergence of the novel in the 18th century;
3) ethos and (historical) dynamics, in which the historical evolution of the concept of “ethos” can be traced and the importance of the historical (political, social, ideological) context of ethos construction can receive ample treatment.
Researchers who are willing to participate need to submit a short CV and an abstract of approximately 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, in which you present briefly the subject and the concrete research question(s). The deadline is December 18, 2011.The proposals, as well as the papers, may be formulated in French as well as in English. Your lecture can take 20 minutes, followed by a 10 minutes question and answer session. Although strongly recommended, the participation to the reading seminars is not a prerequisite for the workshop.
Amossy, Ruth (éd.). Images de soi dans le discours. La construction de l’ethos. Lausanne/Paris: Delachaux et Niestlé. 1999.
Amossy, Ruth. La présentation de soi. Ethos et identité verbale. Paris: PUF. 2010.
Baumlin, James S. & French, Tita (eds). Ethos. New Essays in Rhetorical and Critical Theory. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press. 1994.
Diaz, José-Luis. L'écrivain imaginaire. Paris: Champion. 2007.
Hyde, Michael J. (ed.). The Ethos of Rhetoric. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. 2004.
Maingueneau, Dominique. “Problèmes d’ethos.” Pratiques 113/114. 2002. 55-68.
Maingueneau, Dominique. Le discours littéraire. Paratopie et scène d’énonciation. Paris: Armand Colin. 2004.
Meizoz, Jérôme. Postures littéraires. Mises en scène de l’auteur. Genève: Slatkine. 2007.
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