ACLA 2014 (To be Held at New York University) Panels on Everyday Life

For paper submission guidelines, look up ACLA website. Last date for paper submission: 15 November, 2013. The conference will be held from March 20-23, 2014.

1. Little Data and the Big Picture: What Everyday Literature can do for Comparison

Seminar Organizer(s): Scott Kushner (McGill University)

The broad claims of Big Data hide the continued importance of the specific, individual, and random. This seminar examines the contributions that Comparative Literature has made and can make for understanding the stories that are written and read against the background of “digital humanities,” “new media,” and the “information society.” Prospective participants are invited to problematize these key terms and explore how textual cultures have evolved alongside, been shaped by, and resisted successive fantasies of a data-driven society. There has always been an everyday literature of letters, memos, telegrams, and notes.

How are the forms of today’s everyday literature analogous repetitions of past forms and how do they represent something qualitatively different? How do we judge? In some fashion, the papers in this seminar will explore ways that the specific, the particular, the analog, and the banal persist in the face of the general, the aggregate, the digital, and the grand arc. Possible topics include (but are not limited to): Histories and counter-histories of the information society; everyday digital textuality; computer and human languages; networked social media; Tweet poetics; posting addiction; life writing; comparative media and textual cultures; reception; censorship; quantitative historiography; textual geographies; platforms (computer and otherwise); analog/digital tensions; political action; lacunae; interface; objects (virtual and/or tangible); participation and/or non-participation; material and immaterial conditions of reading and writing.

SEMINAR KEYWORDS: new media, digital, analog, information society, narrative, everyday, culture, reading, writing, data, digital humanities, methodology


Seminar Organizer(s): Ramsey McGlazer (University of California, Berkeley), Suzanne Li Puma (University of California, Berkeley)

“Before anything else, the first thing that power imposes is a rhythm (to everything: a rhythm of life, of time, of thought, of speech).” – Roland Barthes,How to Live Together

Given neoliberal capital’s encroachments into the realms of the affective and relational, and the increasing regimentation of the rhythm of everyday life, the questions posed in Barthes’s seminar on How to Live Together have become newly  relevant.  Here Barthes defends “idiorrhythmy,” the singular, subjective “rhythm that allows for approximation, for imperfection, for a supplement, a lack, an idios: what doesn’t fit the structure, or would have to be made to fit.”  If the post-Fordist subject syncs up with capital’s rhythms, Barthes’s monks and misfits wait, and cultivate the lacks and lags that render them approximate.  In doing so, they fit together without fitting at all; they seek to be, in Barthes’s phrase, alone together.

This seminar will ask what possibilities are left for “idiorrhythmic constellations” of thought and speech, and more broadly for alternative social arrangements that take the idios as their point of departure.  What space can be claimed for offbeat or otherwise idiorrhythmic subjectivity today?  How, when capital requires constant self-appreciation, are alternative forms of self-cultivation and self-relation sustained?  How do idiorrhythmic forms open onto other beings, so that living with oneself becomes living together in Barthes’s or another sense? Might our work as readers and critics—-necessarily out of synch with the texts and objects we consider—-already imply receptivity to other forms and tempos of life?

SEMINAR KEYWORDS: Affect, Animals, Commodity, Community, Domesticity, Ideology, Idiorhythmy, Monasticism, Neoliberalism, Power, Rhythm, Barthes, Subjectivity, Temporality, Utopia


Seminar Organizer(s): Ana Dopico (New York University)

This seminar gathers papers that reflect on the imaginaries of revolution in cities and capitals in the Global South. Papers will think about the process, the everyday life, the popular memory of revolution in cities and capitals. We will reflect on the experience, the production, and the reification of revolution in a national cultural and public sphere, and think how revolutions and their legacies shape capitoline productions, national ideologies, and metropolitan structures of feeling. We will think historiographically, and reflectiong on contingent and international formations, movements and events that shape revolution in the city. We will reflect on rebellion, space, and everyday life, about time and temporality, about insurgency and occupation, about the revolutionary capital’s relation to the state, its domination or its frailty.

We will think through other political, sociological and aesthetic categories, including revolution, populism, hegemony, spontaneity, and violence; and also aesthetics, resistance, the intellectual class, civil society and political community. By invoking the global South, we seek a heuristic that that exceeds conventional periodizations or mappings of historiography or area studies. We will think about revolution as address, challenge, structure, event, as threshold, affect, and sensibility –all elements that shape human lives in global metropoles. We reflect on revolution as a constitutive process of the capital city in the global South: a process that depends on or reacts to metropolitan culture. We examine these claims to politics not merely as idiosyncratic indexes of European political philosophy, but through their own cultural contingencies and political coordinates.

SEMINAR KEYWORDS: south by south, revolution, insurgency, imaginaries, cities, everyday life, cosmopolitanism, populism, violence, institutions, civil society


Seminar Organizer(s): Erag Ramizi (New York University), Suzana Vuljevic (Columbia University)

Capital’s unyielding domination over social reality has occasioned the production and recording of a particular kind of transnational history. Such a history is premised on categories (the market, everyday life, modernity, progress, the nation, cosmopolitanism) that have gained widespread currency as organizing principles of human existence, affecting spatio-temporal perceptions, shaping historical consciousness and subjectivity, and fueling or frustrating collective projects. Historical narratives themselves, insofar as they are produced, circulated and consumed, operate as capital, as commodities on the global marketplace that mold ideological perspectives, indulge cultural appetites or adhere to diverse political agendas. Subject to various perusals and interpretations, elisions and fabrications, tendentious historiography can aggravate the uneven development, both geopolitical and cultural, that is emblematic of capital’s rule. Metropolitan histories, with their overbearing authority and widespread recognizability, frequently partake in capital’s self-reinforcing project, while peripheral histories, in a struggle against oblivion and dismissal, attempt to subvert capital’s grand narratives and seek alternative articulations of established concepts or altogether new forms of political practices and cultural expressions.

How do these heterogeneous histories intersect, either in a mutually negating or, perhaps, in a mutually reinforcing way? Is the multiplicity of local histories constitutive of a “world history”? How are the itineraries of financial, human and cultural capital mapped, represented, historicized, institutionalized, accessed and remembered? How is history itself experienced, documented and theorized? How is it generated, archived and transmitted? This panel invites its participants to ponder the transversals of capital, history and literature by taking into consideration some of these questions.

SEMINAR KEYWORDS: historiography, historical consciousness, uneven development, world history, temporality, archives, historical agency, historical change, historical literature


Seminar Organizer(s): Charles Legere (University of Pittsburgh), Walt Hunter (Clemson University)

Our seminar stakes out a set of texts, terms, and questions for engaging how poems materialize experiences of precarity within the shifting, ubiquitous demands of capital. Given the rapid expansion of critical discourse around the concept of precarity, and the potential fetishism of the concept itself, we also aim situate the discourse of biopolitics, social death, normativity, and grievability in relation to Marxist, feminist, and anarchist approaches to questions of labor, accumulation, reproducibility, possession, autonomy, debt, and risk. By placing these critical discourses in relation to the formal experiments of 21st-century poetries, we hope to generate a more definite language for how experiences of precarity are particularized, and perhaps remain unassimilable, within the global systems of capital value and valuation. The core interest is how these tensions of precarity are lived out, or through, on the scale of everyday experience, and how poetry gives form to these uneven histories of living.

We invite papers addressing a wide range of global poetries of the 21st century, particularly papers which take up, problematize, or expand on questions of:

  • Post-Fordist and Keynesian Economics
  • Affect Theory
  • Cognitive versus Contingent Work
  • History of the Lyric
  • World Literatures
  • Textuality and Embodiment
  • Debt Culture
  • Experiences, Calculations, and Managements of Risk
  • Slow Death or Life-in-Death
  • Cultures of Surveillance or Coercion
  • Constant vs. Variable Capital

SEMINAR KEYWORDS: contemporary poetry, poetry and poetics, global capital, post-Fordism, forms of life, debt, risk, precarity, vulnerability


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