Phantasmic Binds: Culture as Poltergeist
Rutgers University Program in Comparative Literature
Biennial Graduate Student Conference
April 3-4, 2020
Keynote: Professor Lydia Liu, Columbia University
How can language, often thought to be incorporeal, twist and tie up our lived realities? How does cultural production reach across this ontological chasm with surprising, and sometimes even shocking, results? In this impasse, words function as overdetermined phantasms of a culture that orient how we articulate and recognise our aspirations, affections, ambivalence, and antipathy. In this social matrix, words—and by implication, language—are imagined as cultural specters: as ahistorical poltergeistic entities that reinforce a predictable present.
Grappling with the implications of these cultural complexities, the biennial graduate student conference at the Rutgers University Program in Comparative Literature invites responses that meditate on the instability of language and how it acts as a phantasm that shifts our collective culture, in ways both generative and deleterious. In this conference, we want to explore language’s vitality to our understanding of the porous divide between the public and the private/personal, between human and non-human. How does language figure in facilitating the discursive, political and lived landscape(s) we are subject to? What are the limits and possibilities of language, the duplicities of language and the permissibilities of classification, taxonomy, and the nomenclatures that enable or disrupt experiences of cultural, material, physical, and social displacement? How does the transience of language function across time, space, and borders—including those borders it helps to create—and what is the role of literary and/or interdisciplinary studies in probing these functions?
We invite Graduate students who are interested in presenting at the conference, either through research papers, creative nonfiction essays, fiction/short stories, poetry, or performance, to submit an abstract of 300 words that address these questions.
Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
- Translation and communication across borders
- Multilingualism and/or translingualism
- Identity, memory, trauma, and mourning
- Nonce words and shifting meanings/definitions
- Silences in cultural production
- Spectral pasts and/or speculative futures
- Anti-colonial/decolonial tongues; linguistic and geopolitical borders
- Artificial intelligence and posthumanism
- The environmental imagination and the language of climate change
- Gender and sexuality discourses
- Hauntology, ghosts, and genre discourses
The deadline for paper proposals is 11:59 PM on January 15th, 2020. Please submit all proposals through this form. All submissions should include the title of the paper, the abstract, and the name, affiliation, and email of the author.
More details about the conference can be found on the conference website: https://phantasmicbinds.wixsite.com/conference. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.