Postcolonial, ethnic, indigenous, and other such literatures are more commonly thought about as literature in context rather than as literature with aesthetic specificity. Such literature indeed cannot be separated from the material conditions from which it emerges. However, to read such texts only as evidence of its historical context empties it of its forming and formative activity. In this seminar, we highlight the importance of the aesthetic category of genre in order to interrogate the political implications of geography.
The scholarship on genre generally affords it a structuring but also fluid role in shaping how texts are constructed and received (e.g., Frow, Rieder, Dimock). We ask how attention to genre allows us to understand geopolitical phenomena such as regional formations (e.g., the EU, Cascadia), sovereignty movements, “post-national constellations,” the rise of the “global city,” apartheid, border control, digital networks, or war? How are geographical conditions such as topography, rising oceans, polar vortices, garbage patches, the spread of disease, human migration patterns, and so on expressed through genre? Conversely, how might a geopolitical framework enrich our understandings of genre? How do the global culture industry and other smaller production and distribution networks shape texts? Are there representational systems other than “writing back,” the postcolonial allegory, ethnography, or hybrid melange? What other traditions and innovations comment on experiences of space?
In the spirit of comparative analysis, we welcome papers in any language, historical period, media, or geographical context. Please send short abstracts and bios by August 15th 2014.
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