Call for Papers
The University of Toronto’s Centre for Comparative Literature’s 29th Annual Conference
50th Anniversary of the Centre for Comparative Literature 1969-2019
What is time? How do we think about it? These timeless questions haunt us still.
From Aristotle’s unities of time and space, to Einstein’s theory of space-time dichotomy, to Bergson’s duration, the issue of temporal representation has raised questions about chronology/chronometry and conceptions of time as cyclical, linear, or multi-directional. Literature and other artistic media, such as music, theatre, film, photography, and visual arts have revolved around the paradoxical task of representing time’s passage, stasis, duration, embodiment, fragmentation, and distortion. Recently, diverse time-space epistemologies such as those founded in Indigenous cultures and questions of the digital, the postcolonial, memory, remediation of ephemera, ecology, and gender have opened up new perspectives on temporality.
Attempts at temporal unification for cultural, economic and political reasons mark human history. Postcolonial time has often been considered an alternative temporality in opposition to Western forms of temporal homogenization (standard time, clock time, imperial time). However, can the postcolonial “other” encourage a perspectival definition of time while simultaneously helping to reconsider the alleged incommensurability between the time of the “other” and “Western temporality”?1
Time is also intrinsically linked to questions of cultural and personal memory and trauma. Acts of remembrance (re)enact the past in the present, and the imagination projects past and present into the future. By remembering and forgetting, witnessing and enacting, subjectivation and self-formation are mediated through time. What are the ethical implications of shaping the self through memory? Can time heal? Moreover, how does the multi-directionality of memory complicate linear and progressive understandings of time?
“Hold on to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past,” wrote James Joyce. The opposite holds true as well – remembering the future as past can illumine how we address present problematics. The Anthropocene is upon us – an era of accelerated change and, consequently, collective human responsibility. Ice caps melting, oceans polluted and overfished, countless animals killed for human consumption – this is the contemporary condition of climate time. What roles does time play in ecology and the processes of extinction and climate change?2
It is in light of recent societal and planetary developments (climate change, globalization, multiculturalism, etc.) that re-thinking time and politics becomes urgent. The historical materialist thinking of time as capital persists in contemporary neoliberalism: “sustainability” is used as a catch-phrase in policy making, while simultaneously sustaining the belief in progress and exploitation. Time is still money, after all. Can alternative politics of time envision new and unexplored forms of society? Are utopian imaginaries of the future a productive way of thinking time and politics?3
We, as participants in the academic discourse, acknowledge that our current and future perception of time affects disciplines and structures in pedagogy and academia. Considering gender and marginalization in our reflections on temporality allow us to imagine time in unexplored yet crucial ways: to challenge more, critique louder, and erase erasure. Now is the time to consider what it means to be contemporary; what it means to participate in our times. This is an invitation to a critical rethinking of, and a creative engagement with, the subject of time from a contemporary perspective.
The organizing committee of the 29th Annual Conference welcomes academic and artistic submissions (e.g. poetry, performance, visual arts) that engage with aspects of temporality. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
- Representations of Time in the Arts
- “Pre-modern” Conceptions of Time
- Time and the Postcolonial
- Indigenous Temporalities
- Time, Memory, Trauma
- Ruins, Monuments, and Ethnographies
- Gender, Embodiment, Aging Bodies
- Languages through Time
- Time and the Anthropocene
- Heterotopias / Utopias / Heterochronies
- Economy and Time as Capital
- Time-Space Compression under Globalization
- Rhythm, Movement, and Acceleration
- Ethical Responsibility and the Politics of Our Time
The conference will be held at the University of Toronto on March 29th and 30th, 2019.
Proposals should be a maximum of 250–300 words. Individual talks should be 15–20 minutes in duration and altogether, panels and roundtables should not exceed 90 minutes. Please include a biographical statement of no more than 50 words and submit your abstract by e-mail to email@example.com by December 1st, 2018.
We look forward to welcoming you to Toronto.
1 Watson, J. K. and Wilder, G. (eds.). The Postcolonial Contemporary: Political Imaginaries for the Global Present. New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2018; Kaltmeier, O. and M. Rufer (eds.) Entangled Heritages: Postcolonial Perspectives on the Uses of the Past in Latin America. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2017.
2 Menely, T. and Taylor, J. O. Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017; Davis, H. and Turpin, E. Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies. London: Open Humanities Press, 2015.
3 Morfino, V. and Thomas, P. D. (eds.) The Government of Time: Theories of Plural Temporality in the Marxist Tradition. Boston: Brill, 2018