American Literature and the Philosophical Conference 2017

Conference “American Literature and the Philosophical” – 23-25 March 2017 – Paris, France
American Literature and the Philosophical

23-25 March 2017
Paris, France

Taking literature as a mode of thinking and philosophy as a way of writing, this conference would like to interrogate the boundaries and explore the crossings between the philosophical and the literary in American literature from the Colonial era to the present. How has the philosophical, understood as a practice that exceeds inscription within philosophy as such, yet shares many of its presuppositions and intentions, participated in the making of American literature? And in what ways has American literature shaped and developed, altered and reoriented, disoriented perhaps, our modern conception of the ancient question of the philosophical? Rather than positing an American exceptionalism and viewing literature as the inevitable refuge of thought in an otherwise a-philosophical country—broadening too quickly Stanley Cavell’s argument for the nineteenth century—or postulating that the relationship between literature and philosophy in America runs a linear course that would go from relative disciplinary indistinction in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to discursive dispute after the invention of literature as we have come to know it in the wake of Romanticism, we wish to look at the many specific ways in which the literary and the philosophical intersect, question, provoke and unsettle one another within American texts (fiction, poetry, essay,…). We aim to investigate the wide array of forms and shapes that their relationship has taken—and continues to take—, whether dialogic or agonistic, intimate or distant, hospitable or hostile, and to examine, and perhaps challenge, traditional conceptions of priority and dependence, authority and antecedence. We are interested in panels, workshops and individual papers that engage with particular literary and philosophical conjunctures in the history of American literature (Puritanism, Transcendentalism, Modernism, Post-Modernism, to name but a few, obvious, vantage points), as well as in approaches that challenge periodization, offer new contextualizations, or claim anachronism to probe the untimely correspondence between American literature and philosophy.

We welcome papers from graduate and doctoral students.



Proposals will be reviewed by the Conference Committee:
Dr Richard Anker (Université Blaise Pascal – Clermont-Ferrand)
Dr Thomas Constantinesco (Université Paris Diderot / IUF)
Prof. Mathieu Duplay (Université Paris Diderot)
Dr Abigail Lang (Université Paris Diderot)
Prof. Sandra Laugier (Université Paris I – Panthéon Sorbonne)
Prof. Cécile Roudeau (Université Paris Diderot)
Dr Stéphane Vanderhaeghe (Université Paris 8 – Vincennes Saint-Denis)



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