“Post-Political Critique and Literary Studies”
Call for Papers for ACLA 2020 Seminar (Chicago, 19-22 March 2020)
This seminar seeks papers that reflect on the analytical bridges that might exist between post- political theory and literary studies. The main question the seminar aims to answer is the following: Decades after everything was declared to be political, what are the affordances, triumphs, and pitfalls of a post-political theory of literature?
The work of theorists of post-politics such as Jacques Rancière, Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau, Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek, and Erik Swyngedouw among others has exposed the processes by which political action is currently being eroded, sites for its practice are increasingly disappearing, and political agency is in urgent need to be revitalized. At the same time, much post-political critical discourse has concentrated on connecting the saturation and subsequent evacuation of the practice politics to cause meaningful change with the need to formulate new and alternative ways to counteract it.
While post-political theory has featured in analyses traditionally labelled “political” such as studies focusing on gender, environmentalism, postcolonialism, neoliberalism, or racism, a more explicit reflection on the contours, scope, and interpretative value of post-political theory for the study of literary is absent in the critical theory corpus and can offer an important contribution. How can questions concerning representation (textual as well as political) be rethought through this lens? What imaginative processes dovetail political activity and the work of literature? What are the continuities, if any, between political creativity and aesthetics? These questions should be methodologically tackled with as much liberty as necessary. Papers, then, will be encouraged to either offer applications that analyze individual texts or illuminate the ways in which this theoretical apparatus can offer new avenues for the practice of literary studies at large.
Further, post-political theory has largely focused on neoliberalism and governance, and important work has been produced about the connections between literature and these two categories. One major goal of the seminar, thus, will be to explore these crucial notions but also a wide range of themes, topics, and registers beyond them. How can the boundaries of post-political theory be expanded as it works in conjunction with and for the purpose of facilitating the exploration of literary texts?
Finally, submissions are encouraged for papers that tackle one or several of these theoretical questions from global, national, or local perspectives.
Please submit an abstract with bio between August 31 and September 23 via the ACLA portal (www.acla.org; please do not send abstracts directly to the seminar organizer).
For inquiries, please contact Juan Meneses at email@example.com.
Juan Meneses, Associate professor, UNC Charlotte