CfP Seminar "Scenes of Investigation"

Till Breyer's picture
Call for Papers
September 23, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, German History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Literature, Philosophy

American Comparative Literature Association / 6th-9th of July 2017, Utrecht (NL)

Seminar "Scenes of Investigation"

Call for Proposals (20 min plus discussion)

»Something is uncanny – that’s how it begins.« (E. Bloch) Uncanny beginnings produce scenes: places of an unusual or illicit event, probabilities of what might have taken place, inquiries, witnesses, analyses of clues and traces. This kind of scenery, be it that of a criminal case, a social circumstance or a psychological disruption, activates different forms of investigation. These pertain to governmental institutions like jurisdiction, police or secret services, scientific fields like criminology and psychoanalysis, medial practices like investigative journalism, and aesthetic forms such as the (analytic) drama, crime novels and films, television series or other forms of fiction.

One basic assumption is that techniques of investigation operate in a threshold between knowledge and non-knowledge, in a zone of ambivalent or uncertain truth values. This precarious area of operation is historically connected to epistemic modes like conjecture, suspicion, presumption, and paranoia, as well as to semiotic types such as the trace or the index. The seminar wants to take up recent research in literary, cultural and social studies (L. Boltanski, S. Kern, M. Schneider, S. Krämer, C. Ginzburg and others) and connect questions of epistemology, media history, and aesthetics in order to pursue the following questions (among others): What makes an event or an information activate a process of investigation? What are, for certain historical periods, paradigmatic scenes of investigation that might disclose the dynamics of disclosure itself? Who are the agents of investigation, what are their resources, what do they represent? Which archives and data bases, which media and ‘discourse networks’ (F. Kittler) enter into the truth games between what M. Foucault has identified as épreuve, enquête and examen?

We welcome proposals for case studies of as well as broader perspectives on investigation. We particularly encourage such contributions that are interested in the theoretical implications of the investigative scene(s).

Please submit your paper (max. 1.500 characters, incl. spaces) here:

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Contact Info: 

Organizers: Till Breyer, Patrick Hohlweck, Philipp Weber