AAG 2015 cfp Worldly Literary Geographies Sessions

AAG 2015 – Worldly Literary Geographies Sessions

Convened by Philip Howell (University of Cambridge) and Dave McLaughlin (University of Cambridge)

Sponsored by the Cultural Geography Specialist Group

Literary geographies has we believe finally come of age, with significant and substantial contributions to make to our understanding of literature and its relations with the world beyond the text. As an interdisciplinary enterprise drawing on multiple strands of social and cultural theory it is particularly well placed to contribute to the developing interest in the relationship between literary works and the world. These sessions explore this relationship: first, in general terms, and second, with the specific thematic of mobility and circulation in mind.

 

Session 1 – The Work and the World

 

Maurice Blanchot, the critic most attuned to the necessary distance between the world and what he calls the work maintains that ‘To write is to withdraw language from the world’ (Blanchot, The Space of Literature, p. 26), and indeed to silence its incessant speech. But on the other hand, he acknowledges that the work has nevertheless to be ‘displayed in the world and filled with the world’s life and with history’s’, and, what is more, to be born again each time that form is read, in ‘the infinite variation of becoming’ (Blanchot, p. 205). Each new reader, we may infer, in his or her estrangement and distance from the ‘work’ and in her or his location in the world, restores freedom, possibility, and ‘novelness’ itself. Many other theorists, such as Bakhtin, Ricoeur, Bayard, Pavel, Moretti, in their different ways demonstrate that the world of the text is not closed off from the world outside it, and that the text has to transcend itself in the direction of the world: ‘every work of fiction … projects a world outside of itself, one that can be called the “world of the work.” In this way, epics, dramas, and novels project, in the mode of fiction, ways of inhabiting the world that lie waiting to be taken up by reading, which in turn is capable of providing a space for a confrontation between the world of the text and the world of the reader’ (Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, Volume 2, 5). This session explores the complexities involved in such a ‘worldly’ approach to literature: we invite both theoretical and substantively illustrated commentaries on returning the work to the world. We invite papers that address a range of interests within this broad area, including (but not limited to):

 

  • chronotopes, dialogia and heteroglossia
  • narratology and the spatializing of narrative
  • topography and topotropography
  • literary cartographies
  • fictional worlds
  • utopias and alternative worlds
  • mimesis and representation
  • reader response

Pease send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Dave McLaughlin, by Friday, 17th October 2014.

Philip Howell, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK (philip.howell@geog.cam.ac.uk)

Dave McLaughlin, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK

(dm629@cam.ac.uk)

Session 2 – Mobility and Circulation

 

From paper money or printed flyers to the nineteenth-century periodical press, and from samizdat literature in Soviet Russia to modern bookstore reading groups, bibliomigrancy and the circulation of texts has long been a feature of how we write and read. Building on longstanding interests in the ways in which geographies are represented on the page, literary geographers have in recent years demonstrated that the relationship between books and the world is a two way street: authors and readers represent and recreate ‘real’ world geographies on the page; at the same time, representations of geographies can ‘leak out’ into the ‘real’ world, helping to redefine spaces in literary terms. Yet, researchers have so far been less concerned with the corporeal and imaginative mobility of books, authors and readers, in affecting how geographies are represented on the page and how readers respond to them.

 

This session seeks to explore the ways in which the movement of books and their readers, particularly through types of circulation, contributes to the binding of literary geographies to the material world. We invite papers that address a range of interests within this broad area, including (but not limited to):

 

  • Connections between physical mobility and literary representations of mobility
  • Representations of mobility that overspill the page
  • The relationship between mobility and stillness in literary texts
  • Authors’ movements and its impact on their work
  • Mobility of readers and fans
  • Literary pilgrimages and tourism
  • Circulation of periodicals and newspapers
  • Urban texts
  • Commuters’ reading material
  • Reading groups

Pease send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Dave McLaughlin, by Friday, 17th October 2014.

 

Philip Howell, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK (philip.howell@geog.cam.ac.uk)

Dave McLaughlin, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK

(dm629@geog.cam.ac.uk)

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