[Marxism] CFP: Literature and the Sovereign Individual of Modernity (11/30/05; ACLA, 3/23/06-3/26/06)

zubin meer zubinmeer at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 5 17:45:48 MST 2005

Paper proposals are invited for the following seminar at the
American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual
Conference in Princeton, NJ, 23-26 March, 2006:

Literature and the Sovereign Individual of Modernity

Seminar Organizer: Zubin Meer, York University,
zubinmeer at yahoo.com

Some fifty years ago, Ian Watt in his Rise of the 
Novel postulated the connection between the rise of the
eighteenth century English novel and the emergence of homo
economicus, i.e., the model of economic rationality endemic
to liberal-bourgeois, capitalist society. If "individualism"
is understood in its most expansive sense--suggesting the
economic individualism of Adam Smith, the political
individualism of John Locke, the philosophic individualism
of Rene Descartes, or the religious individualism of Martin
Luther--its origins and development have long been
acknowledged within the social and human sciences as an
index of the transition from pre-modernity to modernity
(however marked by fits and starts, dead-ends and
reversals). But, recently, at least since the linguistic
turn, this conceptual framework has also been called into
question on the grounds of its essentialist or exclusionary
figuration of the human.

Proposed papers should explore literature's participation in
the construction of the modern self-regulating or self-
autonomous "individual".  I welcome studies devoted to any
historical period, from Renaissance to postmodern (with the
attendant problematics of post-humanism, the death of the
subject, relativism or scepticism), and from any national
context, that might provide a counter-narrative or
contestation to the Western claim on the rise of the
(modern, Western) subject, self, or individual. I am
especially interested in papers that seek to grapple with
that legacy of an older Marxist-materialist literary
criticism (cf. Watt, but also Adorno, Benjamin, Lukacs, 

Goldmann, Bakhtin, Gramsci, et al), one that long ago 

attempted to undo many of the progressivist conceits 

of liberal selfhood via the categories of "alienation," 

"reification," "commodification" and "rationalization."

Please feel free to contact me at zubinmeer at yahoo.com, with
any questions, but all abstracts must be submitted online:

Abstracts should be 250 words, and submitted online before
30 November, 2005, at http://aslamp01.princeton.edu/%
7Eoitdas/acla06/. At this site, you may fill out the
submission form, and select the seminar, Literature and the
Sovereign Individual of Modernity.

The American Comparative Literature Association annual
conference is organized primarily into seminars
(or "streams"), which consist either of twelve papers, if
they meet on all three days of the conference, or eight to
nine papers, if they meet on two days. Papers should be 15-
20 minutes long to allow time for discussion. Seminar
members will have to join the ACLA and register for the
conference. For further information about the conference,
including the format, please see


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