CFP: Short-circuits and Fused Visions: The Works and Networks of Claude Pélieu

James  Horton's picture
Call for Papers
June 11, 2020 to June 12, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, American History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, French History / Studies, Literature



Short-circuits and Fused Visions: The Works and Networks of Claude Pélieu

University of Chicago Center Paris, June 11-12, 2020


This international conference is the first ever dedicated to the work of Claude Pélieu (1934-2002). It will seek to identify and critically consider the various aspects of the work of this Franco-American creator and passeur — translation, poems, novels, collages, diary-collages, cut-ups, and mail art.


The conference will explore Pélieu’s short-circuited writing (his surrealist influences, his variations on cut-ups, collage, etc.), his specific processes of creation, and the penetrating glance that he cast upon the modern world through his corrosive oeuvre. It will investigate Pélieu’s visual works and texts, and those of others to which he contributed, by analyzing their generic (influences, deconstruction, fragmentation), political (pamphlets, manifestos, declarations), and linguistic dimensions, as well was their radical and experimental content and reception.


The conference also aims to investigate the various forms of correspondence that Pélieu maintained with other artists and writers, wherein mail art, translation, and collaborative and networked writing served as a means of instigating a rich and fertile transatlantic dialogue of avant-gardes and countercultures. Special attention could here be paid to Pélieu’s work with Jeff Nuttall, Carl Weissner, and William Burroughs, as well as to the network that Pélieu constructed through dozens of poems dedicated to a whole generation of writers.


The translation-adaptations of texts by Beat Generation writers that Pélieu produced with his partner, artist Mary Beach, also represent a unique form of collaboration and operated as dual means of modifying and disseminating subversively-tinged texts. With this in mind, we will seek in particular to reconsider the decisive role played in Pélieu’s oeuvre by Mary Beach, a prolific translator, editor, painter and collagist in her own right, and the first woman to experiment with the cut-up (Electric Banana, 1975). Pélieu’s work is inextricably linked to his collaboration with Beach by virtue of their joint translations of Beat writers as well as her translation of Pélieu’s own texts, their publishing ventures and their joint visual works created in the 1980s and 1990s. This veritable “oeuvre croisée” can also allow us to explore gendered and affective dimensions of art making, translation and literary work in the latter half of the 20th century and in countercultural milieus.


Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Cutting up and short-circuits in writing
    • Infected language: linguistic coding and viral transmission, the dislocated word, the manipulated text, meaning and meaninglessness
    • Forms of writing: pamphlets, manifestos, script-vite, poem-tracts, reportage-poems, diaries, haiku, koan, sutras, ready-made, collages, comics
    • Writing-techniques: cut-up, concrete poetry, automatism, filiations and heritage, plural genres and intermediality, genre renewal and mutant avant-gardes
    • Evolution of Pélieu’s work in time: key texts, circulation/transfer between writing-collage-translation-editing, autoreferentiality, strategies and modes of auto-representation, autobiography
    • Links and cross-fertilization between text, image and collage
  • Themes in Pélieu’s work
    • The broken, mutilated body, the reconstructed body, the diseased body
    • Transmission, technology, communication, science-fiction, control
    • The ecological consciousness at work: environmental deterioration, rubbish, recycling, repairing, hybridity
    • Reality and illusion: ur-reality, surreality, dreaming, spectacle
  • Intersections, collaborations and resonances
    • Mary Beach, the writer, the editor, the artist; the cross-fertilizing work of Pélieu and Beach
    • Artistic and literary collaborations: Parisian youth; American, beat or countercultural networks
    • Creating, translating, adapting: Pélieu as a transatlantic passeur
    • Pélieu and visual arts: collages, drawings, concrete and visual poetry, artistic encounters (Raymond Hains, Erró, Jeff Nuttall), comics, appropriation and misappropriation
    • The Pélieu rhizome (Lucien Suel, Michel Bulteau, F.J. Ossang, Julien Blaine, Alain Jégou, Bruno Sourdin, Joël Hubaut, Bob Kaufman, Charles Plymell, Ed Sanders, Ray Bremser, Jurgen Ploog, Carl Weissner, Alex Trocchi, Jeff Nuttall) / network writing / strategy of rhizomic building though intertextuality and paratext
    • Resonances of Pélieu’s work in the digital age

While this conference will center on the work of Claude Pélieu, we warmly welcome research papers that explore the countercultural milieus and publications through which he passed and the trajectories of comparable figures in the 20th century art, poetry, experimental writing and translation.


Proposal guidelines:


Proposals can be made in either French or English, should include a 400-word abstract for an individual proposal, as well as a short academic bio and bibliography. Proposals should be sent as a single Word document before January 15, 2020 to the organizing committee — James Horton (Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, UMR 8066; ED 540, ENS),  Peggy Pacini (Université de Cergy-Pontoise / EA 7392, AGORA), Frank Rynne (Université de Cergy-Pontoise/ EA 7392, AGORA)  — at the following address:

Proposals will be examined by our scientific committee:

  • Rémi Astruc (EA 7392, AGORA, Université de Cergy Pontoise)
  • Douglas Field (University of Manchester)
  • James Horton (Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, UMR 8066 ; ED 540, ENS)
  • Peggy Pacini (EA 7392, AGORA, Université de Cergy Pontoise)
  • PierreAntoine Pellerin (ITT, Université de Lyon 3)
  • Frank Rynne (EA 7392, AGORA, Université de Cergy Pontoise)

Deadline for proposals: January 15, 2020

Accepted proposals will be notified as of February 15, 2020.





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