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Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL)

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  • New Australian Modernities: Antigone Kefala and Australian Migrant Aesthetics ASAL 2019 mini-conference

    UNSW March 15 2019

    Convenors Brigitta Olubas and Elizabeth McMahon

    Keynote Speaker: Sneja Gunew

    This symposium works from the premise that a key Australian literary and aesthetic modernity begins at the mid-twentieth century with the arrival of refugees from the Displaced Persons camps of post-war Europe, and continues through the many subsequent waves of arrivals. It aims to provoke consideration of the wider significance of what were termed “New Australian” arrivals to the intellectual and cultural life of the nation from the mid-century, as an alternative reading of the Australian modernist project in terms of Sneja Gunew’s 1983 designation of migrant writing as a Derridean “dangerous supplement” to Australian literature.

    Within this configuration of New Australian Modernities, the symposium invites contributors to examine the important work of Antigone Kefala. Kefala is a significant Australian author who has produced more than a dozen acclaimed works including novels, novellas and poetry. Her significance was acknowledged by the award in 2017 of the Judith Wright Calanthe Poetry Award for her most recent collection Fragments (Giramondo) in the Queensland Literary Awards. A collection of critical writing about her work over four decades was published in 2009 in Antigone Kefala: A Writers Journey (Owl Publishing). This collection brought the range and significance of Kefala’s work back into public view. A decade later, this symposium invites new consideration of Kefala’s work. Contributors are invited to approach her writing in terms of the history of writing by non-Anglo writers in Australia, and also in the context of the recent upsurge of interest in writers from diverse backgrounds. We also invite contributors to explore the milieus within which Kefala worked, and the networks of other artists and writers with whom she was connected.

    Please send abstracts by October 31 2018 to: Kate Livett k.livett@unsw.edu.au

    with the subject line: ASAL19KEFALA.

  • 2018 Literary Studies Convention: The Literary Interface

  • The deadline for panel and paper submissions for the 2018 Literary Studies Convention has been extended to 25 August, 2017.

    The Convention will be held at Australian National University, Canberra, from 4-7 July 2018.

    This convention will bring together scholars working across the broad field of literary studies to discuss the literary as an interface between different forms of knowledge and processes of knowledge formation, looking at questions of how and through what means the literary is communicated, represented, negotiated, and remade. By placing the concept of the literary centre-stage while at the same time interrogating its role as an interface, we wish to open up for discussion questions about the role, dynamism, and value of the literary in a time of institutional change and ongoing disciplinary formation. We would also like to debate the role of the literary text - and literary studies as a discipline - as a site of encounter between diverse languages and potentially alien modes of reading and writing.

    Invoking the possibility of melding, soldering, and/or merging different elements, the literary interface suggests the resilience as well as the suppleness of disciplinary boundaries. It conjures the possibility of new meeting points; zones of contact and interaction but also sites of contention and disruption that might challenge received platitudes yet help us to bring to the surface new meanings.

    We invite papers and panel proposals, including but not limited to the following topics:

    • Mediation, remediation, and transmediation
    • Literary Formalism - its past, present and/or future
    • Multimedia forms as interfaces
    • The relationship between forms, networks, and hierarchies
    • Encounters between readers and modes of reading
    • Translation
    • The relationship between literary studies and other disciplines, e.g., environmental studies, maths, ethnography, science
    • The interface between academic and public critical cultures
    • Spaces of reading (online and otherwise)
    • The negotiation of literary value
    • The classroom as literary interface
    • Literary objects as interfaces: circulation, reception, paratexts
    • The stage and other spaces of performance as interface between temporalities, bodies, performers, writers and audiences
    • Cultural interfaces
    • Languages of colonialists/postcoloniality
    • Transnationalism and minor transnationalism.

    Deadline for submissions: 25 August 2017.

    Please send an abstract of 150 words and biographical note of 100 words to Julieanne.Lamond@anu.edu.au.

    Jointly held by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, the Australasian Association for Literature, the Australasian Universities Languages and Literature Association, and the Australian University Heads of English.

    Website: http://slll.cass.anu.edu.au/events/2018-literary-studies-convention

  • Call for Papers: 2018 Literary Studies Convention, The Literary Interface

  • 4-7 July, 2018, Australian National University, Canberra

    An interface describes a surface or plane that lies between or joins two points in space, but it also refers to ‘a means or place of interaction between two systems’ and ‘an apparatus designed to connect two scientific instruments so that they can be operated jointly’ (OED).

    This convention will bring together scholars working across the broad field of literary studies to discuss the literary as an interface between different forms of knowledge and processes of knowledge formation, looking at questions of how and through what means the literary is communicated, represented, negotiated, and remade. By placing the concept of the literary centre-stage while at the same time interrogating its role as an interface, we wish to open up for discussion questions about the role, dynamism, and value of the literary in a time of institutional change and ongoing disciplinary formation. We would also like to debate the role of the literary text - and literary studies as a discipline - as a site of encounter between diverse languages and potentially alien modes of reading and writing. Confirmed keynotes include Rey Chow and Lauren Goodlad.

    We invite papers and panel proposals, including but not limited to the following topics:

    • Mediation, remediation, and transmediation
    • Literary Formalism - its past, present and/or future
    • Multimedia forms as interfaces
    • The relationship between forms, networks, and hierarchies
    • Encounters between readers and modes of reading
    • Translation
    • The relationship between literary studies and other disciplines, e.g., environmental studies, maths, ethnography, science
    • The interface between academic and public critical cultures
    • Spaces of reading (online and otherwise)
    • The negotiation of literary value
    • The classroom as literary interface
    • Literary objects as interfaces: circulation, reception, paratexts
    • The stage and other spaces of performance as interface between temporalities, bodies, performers, writers and audiences
    • Cultural interfaces
    • Languages of colonialists/postcoloniality
    • Transnationalism and minor transnationalism.

    Abstracts due 1 July, 2017. Please send abstracts of 150 words and biographical notes of 100 words to Julieanne Lamond (julienne.lamond@anu.edu.au).

  • 2018 ASAL Mini Conference (Darwin)

  • 8 – 9 February 2018, Hosted by Charles Darwin University. 

    The ASAL mini conference webpage is now live and can be accessed here: http://conference-desert-lines.cdu.edu.au/ 


    The Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference will be held in Darwin, Australia. The conference theme focuses on creative writing at the borderlands of Australian literature and asks its contributors to consider Australian literature beyond the “boundaries” of the canon and its mainstream readership. The conference theme draws on ASAL’s identity as an association of scholars working in the fields of Australian literature, paying particular attention to writing beyond coastal centres, and towards writing that represents the “outback” of the Australian imagination.

    Confirmed Plenary Speaker: Dr Christian Bök, Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada and lecturer in the School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Charles Darwin University.
    Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for poetic excellenceBök is currently working on The Xenotext – a project that requires him to encipher a poem into the genome of a bacterium capable of surviving in any environment.

    Master Class
    Christian Bök will facilitate a creative writing master class for academics, postgraduates, writers and teachers in literary fields. More details to follow on the subject of the keynote address and the topic of the master class closer to registration.

    Call for Papers
    The organisers welcome submissions for individual presentations of 20 minutes. Please note: submissions are due by Friday 1 September 2017.

    Please send abstracts and any enquiries to Dr Adelle Sefton-Rowston: adelle.sefton-rowston@cdu.edu.au

    Submissions should include: name of author (Including affiliations), title of presentation, an abstract up to 200 words, and a biographical note of up to 50 words. Further details: www.austlit.edu.au/ASAL

    A PDF flier is available here

  • Call for Papers: 2018 Mini Conference

  • 8 – 9 February 2018, Hosted by Charles Darwin University. 

    The Association for the Study of Australian Literature Conference will be held in Darwin, Australia. The conference theme focuses on creative writing at the borderlands of Australian literature and asks its contributors to consider Australian literature beyond the “boundaries” of the canon and its mainstream readership. The conference theme draws on ASAL’s identity as an association of scholars working in the fields of Australian literature, paying particular attention to writing beyond coastal centres, and towards writing that represents the “outback” of the Australian imagination.

    Confirmed Plenary Speaker: Dr Christian Bök, Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada and lecturer in the School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Charles Darwin University.
    Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for poetic excellenceBök is currently working on The Xenotext – a project that requires him to encipher a poem into the genome of a bacterium capable of surviving in any environment.

    Master Class
    Christian Bök will facilitate a creative writing master class for academics, postgraduates, writers and teachers in literary fields. More details to follow on the subject of the keynote address and the topic of the master class closer to registration.

    Call for Papers
    The organisers welcome submissions for individual presentations of 20 minutes. Please note: submissions are due by Friday 1 September 2017.

    Please send abstracts and any enquiries to Dr Adelle Sefton-Rowston: adelle.sefton-rowston@cdu.edu.au

    Submissions should include: name of author (Including affiliations), title of presentation, an abstract up to 200 words, and a biographical note of up to 50 words. Further details: www.austlit.edu.au/ASAL

    A PDF flier is available here

  • 2018 ASAL Vets: Writing and writers of Gippsland, Gippsland 2018

  • 19-23 March 2018, Paynesville, Gippsland
     
    Gippsland, in Eastern Victoria, has inspired many writers to rhapsodise about its mountains and fern forests, its coastal reaches and lakes. Patrick Morgan characterises it as the ‘writing of the urban dweller seeking rest and solace in the forests; of women on farms wandering into the bush as a break from pioneering chores; of the naturalist exploring a new, diverse and attractive environment; and of the romantic temperament drifting into solitary contemplation of nature’s sublimity and man’s littleness in the face of it all’ (xv. Shadow and Shine an anthology of Gippsland Literature). Gippsland has also been the site of enormous environmental destruction as the dense forests stretching from the southern slopes of the alps to the sea were cleared for farming. Some writing about Gippsland is elegiac, some polemical, and there is bitter conflict over logging in the remaining old growth forests.
     
    The region has been home to many writers such as Hal Porter, Eve Langley, Mary Fullerton, Bruce Pascoe, and Don Watson and the subject of books by writers as various as Chester Eagle, Laurie Duggan and George Seddon.
     
    From Monday 5 March to Friday 9 March, the ASALvets will meet at Paynesville, on the Gippsland lakes, to celebrate the literary heritage of Gippsland and enjoy some of the region’s contemporary pleasures, including, wineries, boat trips, walks in the forest and swimming for those so inclined.  We welcome papers on any
    Paynesville is about 20 minutes from Bairnsdale, which is accessible from Melbourne by train. We plan to meet on Monday night and finish the conference after breakfast on Friday morning.
     
    The most central accommodation is at the Mariner’s Cove which has a range of options: 
    www.marinerscoveresort.com 
     
    Conference goers will need to book their own accommodation there or nearby.   Inquiries to Judy Brett (
    j.brett@latrobe.edu.au) or Susan Lever (susan.plever@bigpond.com)
     
    Please note that all ASAL members are very welcome to attend and present.

  • Call for Papers: 2018 ASAL Vets

  • Call for Papers: Writing and writers of GippslandASAL vets, Gippsland 2018
    19-23 March 2018, Paynesville, Gippsland
     
    Gippsland, in Eastern Victoria, has inspired many writers to rhapsodise about its mountains and fern forests, its coastal reaches and lakes. Patrick Morgan characterises it as the ‘writing of the urban dweller seeking rest and solace in the forests; of women on farms wandering into the bush as a break from pioneering chores; of the naturalist exploring a new, diverse and attractive environment; and of the romantic temperament drifting into solitary contemplation of nature’s sublimity and man’s littleness in the face of it all’ (xv. Shadow and Shine an anthology of Gippsland Literature). Gippsland has also been the site of enormous environmental destruction as the dense forests stretching from the southern slopes of the alps to the sea were cleared for farming. Some writing about Gippsland is elegiac, some polemical, and there is bitter conflict over logging in the remaining old growth forests.
     
    The region has been home to many writers such as Hal Porter, Eve Langley, Mary Fullerton, Bruce Pascoe, and Don Watson and the subject of books by writers as various as Chester Eagle, Laurie Duggan and George Seddon.
     
    From Monday 5 March to Friday 9 March, the ASALvets will meet at Paynesville, on the Gippsland lakes, to celebrate the literary heritage of Gippsland and enjoy some of the region’s contemporary pleasures, including, wineries, boat trips, walks in the forest and swimming for those so inclined.  We welcome papers on any
    Paynesville is about 20 minutes from Bairnsdale, which is accessible from Melbourne by train. We plan to meet on Monday night and finish the conference after breakfast on Friday morning.
     
    The most central accommodation is at the Mariner’s Cove which has a range of options: www.marinerscoveresort.com 
     
    Conference goers will need to book their own accommodation there or nearby.   Inquiries to Judy Brett (j.brett@latrobe.edu.au) or Susan Lever (susan.plever@bigpond.com)
     
    Please note that all ASAL members are very welcome to attend and present.
     

  • 2018 Sri Lanka ASAL Tour: 12 November - 2 December 2018

  • Australia has had a close relationship with Sri Lanka since both were established as British colonies at the end of the eighteenth century.  Ceylon was the nearest British colony to the Australian colonies, a source of supplies and a port of call for travellers from Europe to Australia. Many of the ruling military class of the early Australian colonies exchanged positions with those in Ceylon, and the country appears in travellers’ accounts and sometimes in stories written by Australians—in Martin Boyd’s Lucinda Brayford, for example, Lucinda’s mother takes a holiday trip there.

    After the Second World War many Ceylonese came to Australia, some initially on Colombo Plan exchanges, others during the political upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s when Ceylon became the independent nation of Sri Lanka. Yasmin Gooneratne and Michelle de Kretser may be the best-known of the Australian-Sri Lankan writers, but others include the novelist, Chandani Lokuge, the playwright Ernest McIntyre and poets such as Dipti Saravanamuttu and Sunil Govinnage. As well, many Australian writers have visited Sri Lanka, writing about their experiences of it.

    During our trip to Sri Lanka in November 2018, we will hold a conference at Viharagala Estate, once owned by Yasmin Gooneratne and her husband and operated as a writers’ retreat, Pemberley.  Papers on any aspect of Australian-Sri Lankan culture, or the wider literary connections between Australia and South Asia, will be welcomed.

    Please send proposals and enquiries about the tour to:
    Susan Lever (susan.plever@bigpond.com).
     

  • 2018 Literary Studies Convention: The Literary Interface

    The Convention will be held at Australian National University, Canberra, from 4-7 July 2018.

    This convention will bring together scholars working across the broad field of literary studies to discuss the literary as an interface between different forms of knowledge and processes of knowledge formation, looking at questions of how and through what means the literary is communicated, represented, negotiated, and remade. By placing the concept of the literary centre-stage while at the same time interrogating its role as an interface, we wish to open up for discussion questions about the role, dynamism, and value of the literary in a time of institutional change and ongoing disciplinary formation. We would also like to debate the role of the literary text - and literary studies as a discipline - as a site of encounter between diverse languages and potentially alien modes of reading and writing.

    Invoking the possibility of melding, soldering, and/or merging different elements, the literary interface suggests the resilience as well as the suppleness of disciplinary boundaries. It conjures the possibility of new meeting points; zones of contact and interaction but also sites of contention and disruption that might challenge received platitudes yet help us to bring to the surface new meanings.

    We invite papers and panel proposals, including but not limited to the following topics:

    • Mediation, remediation, and transmediation
    • Literary Formalism - its past, present and/or future
    • Multimedia forms as interfaces
    • The relationship between forms, networks, and hierarchies
    • Encounters between readers and modes of reading
    • Translation
    • The relationship between literary studies and other disciplines, e.g., environmental studies, maths, ethnography, science
    • The interface between academic and public critical cultures
    • Spaces of reading (online and otherwise)
    • The negotiation of literary value
    • The classroom as literary interface
    • Literary objects as interfaces: circulation, reception, paratexts
    • The stage and other spaces of performance as interface between temporalities, bodies, performers, writers and audiences
    • Cultural interfaces
    • Languages of colonialists/postcoloniality
    • Transnationalism and minor transnationalism.

    Deadline for submissions: 25 August 2017.

    Please send an abstract of 150 words and biographical note of 100 words to Julieanne.Lamond@anu.edu.au.

    Jointly held by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, the Australasian Association for Literature, the Australasian Universities Languages and Literature Association, and the Australian University Heads of English.

    Please note that Early Bird registration closes on 30 April 2018.

    Website: http://slll.cass.anu.edu.au/events/2018-literary-studies-convention

  • ASAL ECR Breakfast event at The Literary Interface: Literary Studies Convention 2018

    7.30am, Thursday 5 July, The Cupping Room, 1/1-13 University Ave. Canberra
     
    All early career researchers who are members of ASAL are invited to attend an informal breakfast get together, taking placing on Thursday 5 July, in the morning before the first sessions for that day get started. Come and catch up with your fellow ECR's.

    Please note that it is essential to RSVP to Joe Cummins: josephalcummins@gmail.com
      

  • Call for Papers: SHARP 2018: 'From First to Last Texts, Creators, Readers, Agents' the 26th annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)

    Monday 9 July to Thursday 12 July, with an optional excursion (details TBC) on Friday 13 July, 2018. This international book history conference will be held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, at Western Sydney University, New South Wales, Australia.

    As SHARP moves into its next 25 years, participants are encouraged to think creatively about how the book has been an agent that both anchors cultural continuities and provokes changes in mentalities throughout human history; the connectivity between oral / aural traditions and written cultures etc.; challenging assumptions about centre / periphery and Anglo / Euro-centrisms in Book History; and states of the discipline which address book historiographical concerns and trends, but also stimulate book history to become truly adventurous and methodologically innovative.
     
    In the fictional work The Last Witchfinder (James Morrow, 2006), the book’s narrator—also a book, in this case Newton’s Principia Mathematica—claimed that “unlike you humans, a book always remembers its moment of conception”. Equally we might argue that a text rarely ever dies and may go through many rebirths and incarnations. The conference theme of origins, endings and renewal may be approached from several angles. Potential topics include (but are not limited to):
     

    • What is the beginning and the end of the book?
    • Exploding book histories, geographies and chronologies;
    • Alternative models: knowledge communities and practice in Indigenous cultures.
    • Transitions, overlaps and reinventions in orality, manuscript, print and the digital;
    • Transhistorical, transgender and transcultural comparisons in book history;
    • Books and the non-human / post-human world;
    • The textual human and the human text;
    • Literary agents and non-literary forms of agency that shift book history conventions;
    • The many lives of books: destroying, defacing, unmaking, repairing & restoring texts;
    • Non-literary forces, power structures, language politics and the book;
    • Authorship, originality and creative processes;
    • Materialising text and making containers;
    • Primary motives and end rewards in publishing and related industries; and
    • Temporalities, durations and revolutions in reading.

     
    See the full Call for Papers at http://sharp2018.sydney/call-for-papers/ along with further details, submission instructions and multilingual versions.
     

  • Call for Papers: Frankenstein 2018: two hundred years of monsters

    12-15 September 2018, The Australian National University, and National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra
     
    Nearly two centuries after its anonymous publication on 1 January 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus remains as topical as ever. Its core story—of a recklessly ambitious and naïve scientist whose artificial human-like creature arouses only horror and disgust, and escapes control to seek revenge on his creator—has become, for better or worse, the techno-scientific fable of modernity. First adapted for stage by Richard Brinsley Peake in 1823, and for film by Edison Studios in 1910, the story has inspired more theatre, film, television and other adaptations than any other modern narrative, with more than 50 screen adaptations appearing in the 2010s alone. From Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show to The Addams Family, the Frankenstein myth reaches into every recess of high and popular culture.
     
    We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or 3 x 20-minute panel sessions from scholars across the humanities, sciences and social sciences that respond in interdisciplinary ways to this most interdisciplinary of novels, including, but not limited to:

    • Literary studies, especially of the long eighteenth century, Romanticism, Victorian and neo-Victorian literature
    • Re-tellings and re-imaginings of the Frankenstein story in various modes and genres, e.g. SF, steampunk, speculative fiction, slash fiction, etc.
    • Film, television, theatre and performance, and visual studies
    • Digital humanities, reception studies, histories of popular culture and media ecologies
    • Gender studies, queer theory and the history of sexuality
    • Disability studies and posthumanism
    • The history of medicine, especially reproductive technologies
    • Science and technology studies; images and imaginaries of science and scientists
    • The history and philosophy of biology, especially in relation to vitalism
    • Ecocriticism and the Anthropocene
    • Affect theory and the history of emotions
    • Frankenstein and race, colonialism, empire
    • Global and local Frankensteins, e.g. Australian Frankensteins
    • Frankenstein and material history
    • Cyborgs, robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning
    • Synthetic biology, genetic engineering and artificial life

     
     
    To maintain order among this menagerie of monsters, we propose the following four overarching themes, each of which will be addressed by one of our keynote speakers:
     
    Frankenstein in 1818: historicising the monster
    (Professor Sharon Ruston, Lancaster)
     
    Frankenstein as scientific fable: from grave-robbing and galvanism to synthetic biology and machine learning
    (Professor Genevieve Bell, Australian National University)
     
    Adaptation and experimentation: Frankenstein in film and other media
    (Assistant Professor Shane Denson, Stanford)
     
    Frankenstein’s queer family: gender, sexuality, reproduction and the work of care
    (Professor Julie Carlson, University of California, Santa Barbara)
     
    Please send proposals for papers or sessions—including a title, 250-word abstract, and brief author biography—to Dr Russell Smith at russell.smith@anu.edu.au.
    The deadline for proposals is 6 April 2018. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee comprising scholars from the humanities, sciences and social sciences, and we will endeavour to inform applicants of the outcome within two weeks of the submission deadline. Please note that we will endeavour to notify overseas applicants earlier if they submit proposals before the submission deadline.

    For further information and updates, as well as information about the Humanities Research Centre’s annual theme for 2018, Imagining Science and Technology 200 Years after Frankenstein, see: http://hrc.anu.edu.au/2018-annual-theme.

    Please direct any inquiries to Penny Brew at hrc@anu.edu.au.

  • Call For Papers: Risk Anything!: Modernist Women between Centre and Periphery

    Friday 6 April 2018, UNSW Sydney, Australia
     
    A symposium presented by the Australasian Modernist Studies Network
    Keynote: A/Prof Natalya Lusty (The University of Sydney)
     
    “Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.”
                    – Katherine Mansfield, journal entry 14 October 1922
     
    The peripatetic New Zealand modernist Katherine Mansfield wrote these words towards the end of her life, urging herself to be courageous, to pursue her creative convictions. Mansfield’s approach to life and work is an example of the countless creative women who embraced, employed and drove the modernist cultural experiment.

    Nearly a century later, our own era is equally defined by contingency and risk, offering a unique opportunity to reflect on the history and legacies of creative behaviour that defines itself in terms of risk. We invite proposals from scholars on topics relating to risk, women and modernist culture, and from female-identifying artists, writers and performers whose practice engages with the legacies of modernist women. We especially welcome contributions focusing on women who have traversed the ‘risky’ division between centres of modernism – Britain, Europe, and the United States – and so-called ‘peripheries’. These may take the form of a 20-minute presentation/10-minute question format or a team-led 90 minute roundtable discussion or workshop format. 

    Risk may be interpreted in relation to:
     

    • Creative experimentation and the avant-garde
    • Cultural and gender norms
    • Sexuality
    • Reputation
    • Failure
    • Personal motivation
    • Finance/business
    • Danger – personal, political, social
    • Political struggle

     
    Selected papers will be published as a special journal issue.

    Please send 250-word proposals for papers, roundtables or workshops, along with a 50-word bio to l.mayhew@griffith.edu.au by 31 January 2018. Responses will be distributed in early February.

    Event organisers: Dr Baylee Brits (UNSW), Dr Louise R Mayhew (Griffith University) & Dr Helen Rydstrand (UNSW).
     

  • Call for Papers: The Australasian Modernist Studies Network presents AMSN4: Modernist Comedy & Humour

    26-28 October 2018, University of Melbourne
     
    Is modernism funny? During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Sigmund Freud theorized jokes and their relation to the unconscious, while Henri Bergson argued that laughter is produced by “something mechanical encrusted on the living.” English literary modernists held Victorian earnestness in contempt, often while taking themselves extremely seriously. Early twentieth-century Dadaists committed themselves to nonsense and irrationality and, in 1940, the surrealist André Breton edited and published an anthology of “black humour.” The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also saw the rise of popular and parodic forms of comedy and humour such as the comic strip, vaudeville, camp, and Buster Keaton’s deadpan acting style. These comic forms and styles were bound up with histories of immigration, gender and sexuality, race, technology, and culture industries.

    Humanities scholars are devoting new attention to the aesthetics, politics, and social significance of comedy and humour. For instance, in their 2017 special issue of Critical Inquiry on comedy, Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai note competing trajectories of modern social life: on the one hand, “people are increasingly supposed to be funny all the time,” and on the other, “humourlessness is on the rise.” In the same issue, Ngai opposes the labor-saving operations of the “gimmick” to Victor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht’s practices of making methods of production visible. These tensions and oppositions suggest the usefulness of attending to comedy and humour in the field of modernist studies, which in recent years has rethought traditional oppositions among popular, high modernist, and avant-garde cultural forms.

    We invite papers that engage with comedy and humour across the interdisciplinary field of modernist studies. How do comedy and humour reflect and affect the geographical, temporal, and cultural expansiveness of contemporary modernist studies, and what might Australasian scholarship contribute to this expansion? When are comic genres and styles normative, subversive, or ambivalent? When is laughter a mode of detachment, and when is it a way of being in relation? Who is in on the joke, and why does it matter?
    Possible topics might include:

    • Camp, kitsch, taste, judgment
    • Comic performance genres and styles: vaudeville, music hall, variety,
    • minstrelsy, burlesque, standup, the deadpan, slapstick, shtick, gimmicks
    • Humourlessness, earnestness, seriousness, the unfunny
    • Jokes, comic timing, comic tones
    • Comic strips, political cartoons, caricature
    • The ridiculous, the absurd
    • Humour and/of the avant-garde
    • Laughter and audience behavior
    • Ways and theories of reading
    • The mechanical, grotesque, or nonhuman; humourous objects
    • Pleasure, play, fun
    • Comedy as and at work
    • Commodity culture, advertisements
    • Affect and emotion
    • Ethnic, national, or cosmopolitan comic perspectives
    • Queer humour, sexual parody
    • Overstatement and understatement
    • The epigram, the bon mot, the cutting remark
    • Normative and subversive humour, harmlessness, vulgarity, offensiveness
    • Theories and histories of comedy and humour

     
    Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a bio of no more than 150 words to modernistcomedy@gmail.com as an attachment by 30 March 2018.

    A link to the full CFP is here: http://amsn.org.au/cfp-amsn4-modernist-comedy-humour/

    Confirmed keynote speaker: Professor Nick Salvato (Cornell). This speaker is supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

    Conference committee:
    Dr Sarah Balkin, University of Melbourne
    Professor Ronan McDonald, University of Melbourne Elizabeth McLean, University of Melbourne
    Jessica Marian, University of Melbourne

    Questions may be directed to sarah.balkin@unimelb.edu.au.
     

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