The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2021 Annual Meeting is set to take place April 8-11, 2020, in a fully virtual format. Please consider submitting an abstract for a seminar on "Modernism and Other Exhaustions" at ACLA 2021. Submissions are due by October 31.
Organizer: Torin McLachlan (UBC)
"Modernism and Other Exhaustions"
Exhaustion is once again in vogue in the humanities. Earlier in 2020, ACLA seminars on "Decay Theory," "Despair," and "revolutionary exhaustion" proposed to map scholarly responses to affective, material, and ecological depletion under global late capital, resurgent nationalisms, and technological “progress.” Reflecting contemporary trends in ecocriticism, posthumanism, and new materialisms, this turn to the aesthetics and experience of exhaustion has only become more urgent in the context of the current pandemic.
To scholars of modernism, however, the thinking and writing of exhaustion are not new. One need only consult Deleuze’s influential essay on Samuel Beckett, “The Exhausted,” or consider the correspondences between “figures of thought,” such as the rhizome, with earlier (e.g. Franz Kafka’s “The Burrow”) and later (e.g. Édouard Glissant’s “Poetics of Relation”) writing on the labyrinthine figuration of alienation/relation, to trace the long trajectory of exhaustion as a modernist inheritance of contemporary humanities scholarship.
This seminar proposes a cross-disciplinary conversation between scholars of contemporary ecocriticism and scholars of modernism, setting the virtual table for a discussion of exhaustion in/across both fields. What, for example, does the modernist preoccupation with subjectivity suggest for contemporary thinking that seeks to elaborate the exhaustion of "the human"? What is the significance of exhaustion's "return" in contemporary thought?
Torin McLachlan, PhD Candidate in English Language and Literatures, UBC