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The Hermes Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies

The Hermes Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies

is a collaboration of doctoral schools in Belgium, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, France, and USA that seeks to further an understanding of the European presence in the fields of literature, art and culture in an era of globalization, to promote interdisciplinary thoughts in the fields of literary and cultural studies, to explore changes in European self-understanding and self-criticism across the cultures and disciplines in and beyond Europe, and to develop co-operation between European as well as between non-European research environments.

 

Hermes, Aarhus University, June 12th-16th 2017

Literature and art are always situated in a context, both literally, metaphorically and by reference. But what does this ‘situatedness’ mean? How do literature and art imagine or critically reflect a community, a state or a world and what does the social and cultural context of the reader or the spectator mean for the interpretation of a work of literature or art? What is the political potential of literature and art? Do globalization and new media change our understanding of what context is? And do new methods of comparatism or Big Data entail new ways of perceiving the concept of context?

In this graduate seminar we wish to focus on the way ‘context’ is understood in literary and cultural studies. In a certain sense, contexts have become wider. It has been argued that aesthetics is always already cosmopolitan or globalized (Papastergiadis 2012), and that Big Data-methods in literature departments will open up literary studies to the great unread (Manovich 2015). New comparatists have argued in favor of a new universalism or a planetary consciousness (Apter, Spivak) and for a relational, transcultural understanding of context (Baucom, Dobie).

Yet there is also a new focus on the importance of ‘nearness’, of micro-historical circulation, personal life-stories (Schaffer, Smith), concrete political contexts, personal precariousness (Butler) and affective, phenomenological and performative effects of literature and art on individuals (Ngai, Ahmed). In between the global and the local, we find the nation state that used to be the geographical cornerstone of comparatism as well as the ethnic or political communities often discussed in cultural studies.

Talking about context also often means addressing the relation between aesthetics and politics. New approaches have pointed out the inherent political importance of aesthetic form and of giving voice to the unheard (Rancière) and of creating new forms of collective subjectivity and agency (Mouffe, Douzinas). Literature and art matter in the world and so do storytelling, street art, performative media actions, commercials, documentary movies, political self fashioning etc. that all draw on different forms of aesthetics.

We invite participants to critically discuss the role of context in the interpretation, canonization and circulation of literary and artistic works as well as the methodological implications of contextual interpretations.

 

Topics could be but are not limited to:

 

·         Aesthetics and politics

·         The politics of literary form

·         Big Data and new approaches to context

·         The contextualized reader or spectator

·         Aesthetics in a globalized context

·         Microhistories

·         Circulation of literature and art in different contexts

·         Context’s function within comparative method

·         Mediated contexts and their relation to literary works or artworks

·         Historical forms and discussions about context

·         The role of the reader/spectator

·         Ethnicity, race-, gender- based contexts

 

 

Paper proposals (abstracts) of approx. 300 words should be sent to Karen-Margrethe Simonsen (litkms@cc.au.dk); Jakob Ladegaard (litjl@cc.au.dk) or Mads Rosendahl Thomsen (litmrt@cc.au.dk) no later than February 15, 2017.

 

Price for participation: 250 Euro (includes as a minimum participation, excursion and lunch all days)

 

Venue:

Department of Communication and Culture,

Aarhus University

Langelandsgade 139

8000 Aarhus C

Denmark

 

 

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Revised 16.09.2016