A Corpus in Fever: Archival Impulses in Theory, Literature, and the Arts

Chryssa Marinou's picture
Call for Papers
December 14, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Humanities, Literature
Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Professor Hélène Aji, Université Paris Nanterre
Archives are sites marked by the violence of exclusion. Materials are stored and classified in libraries, museums, and collections of all sorts according to the definition of a body proper and an imposition of limits that circumscribe the archive. Archives map exterior and define interior spaces and attest to the presence as well as the absence of collectivities and their stories, events, and monuments. Within this economy of the inside and the outside, the corpus can be understood as a suffering body, threatened at once by the fever of infinite archivization, or “archive fever,” in Jacques Derrida’s formulation, and the catastrophe of annihilation, brought about by the archive-destroying impulses of the death drive. As a result, an archive is often an agonistic locus where contradictory forces are being played out. Inclusion and exclusion, memory and forgetting, recognition and obscurity are at stake.
Important work in the fields of literary theory, history, the new modernist studies, media studies, and art theory, to name but a few, has transformed the archive, interrogating its definition, its nature, and its social, political, and technological ramifications. Michel Foucault’s epistemological definition of the archive as “the system of statements” and the law that governs “what can be said,” and Derrida’s philosophical understanding of archivization and the politics of secrecy and publicity involved in the archival deposition and classification have offered valuable contributions to the large body of archive studies. More recently, Paul Ricoeur’s exploration of the uses and abuses of memory in historiography in his last large-scale philosophical endeavor Memory, History, Forgetting (2004) elucidates the workings of the archive in relation to history. Moreover, the work of contemporary thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben and Georges Didi-Huberman on the Shoah, Franco Moretti on literature, Arlette Farge on historiography, Wolfgang Ernst on digital media, and Hal Foster on archival art exemplifies the ever-increasing impact of the notion of the archive on recent theoretical thought, extending the influential earlier explorations of Foucault and Derrida. 
This one-day conference invites PhD candidates and early career academics working across the disciplines of Anglophone literature, history, art, philosophy, and psychoanalysis to reflect on the literal and the metaphorical meanings of the archive, and on the associations between archive and text, book, textual corpus, body, psyche, edifice, and image. From Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project to recent developments in conceptual art and experimental poetry, the archive emerges as a critical concept and trope in late modernity and problematizes the politics of authorship, genre, and canon formation. It thus sheds light on texts, artworks, and other cultural products and opens fruitful discussions pertaining to issues of (post)modernity, the politics of memory, and the problem of historical consciousness.
Possible topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:
  • Philosophical and/or psychoanalytic approaches to the archive
  • Archival art and other encounters between art and archives
  • Dialogues of literary works with archives; the literary work as archive
  • The literary canon as archive
  • Disasters of the Human and the archival politics of memory
  • Autobiographies, memoirs, and life-writing
  • New media, the internet, and/as archives
  • Experimental and documentary filmmaking, essay films, and audiovisual archives


The conference will be held at the Kostis Palamas Building of the University of Athens (Akadimias 48).
The deadline for the submission of proposals for individual 20-minute papers (250-300 words) is  July 31st, 2018. Please send a short biographical note (circa 150 words) together with your proposal. Confirmation of acceptance: 20 August 2018.
Proposals should be sent to archivalimpulses@gmail.com
Conference Organisers:
Giorgos Giannakopoulos (PhD Candidate, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), george_gian@hotmail.com
Chryssa Marinou (PhD Candidate, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), chrmarinou@gmail.com
Contact Info: 

Department of English Language and Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens/ HASE Hellenic Association for the Study of English