Posted on 14/12/2012
We would like to invite all graduate students, from within or without French Studies, as well as academics, artists and other interested parties, to submit proposals for the Cambridge French Graduate Conference, 26th – 27th April 2013, MATTERS OF TIME.
MATTERS OF TIME hints towards the oft used colloquialism ‘It’s just a matter of time’, and yet ‘matter’ and ‘time’ are individually unstable entities, and the attempt to think them together is a challenging but exciting conjunction that this conference seeks to explore. Often seen as a relentlessly abstract, calculated and regulatory measure, time can also be plural, dense, concrete, and embodied: what is the materiality of time, and the temporality of matter?
MATTER has always been considered as relevant for aesthetics as a field engaging with material objects. But to what extent can artworks be considered MATTERS OF TIME? This area might not only address issues of periodisation, but also issues concerning time itself as a material medium inherent in the work: for example, what is the time of poetry? How does narratology conceptualise novelistic time? In what ways does contemporary thing theory attend to the time of things? MATTERS OF TIME might also suggest an engagement with the material detritus produced in the passing of time. In his arcades project, Walter Benjamin methodologically considers the Paris of the 19th century as a ruin at the very time of its heyday – what are today’s ruins, what are ruins, what is today?
For the so-called time-based arts, that is, film, performance and theatre, time is constitutive, and we would like to call for papers interrogating these art forms’ aesthetics in relation to questions of duration, endurance and attention. What does it mean to be bored during a performance? Can cinematic long takes provide a realism of the senses, or interrogate reality more closely? How does the concrete, embodied experience of time relate to the mechanical measure of the clock, and can or should these be considered as oppositions? Time also changes bodies, their self-presentation, conception, identification and combination. Whether over mere seconds or whole epochs, what does the passing of time mean to, and through, the corporeal and social body?
To the extent that French theory is often equated with structuralism and post-structuralism, there is a common perception that it tends to favour thinking through spatial metaphors, privileging synchronic structures over diachronic movements. On the other hand, Hegelian and Marxist dialectics has been highly influential on French theory from the 1920s onwards,
when they became a steady concern for French thinkers in terms of questions of the end of history, of utopianism, of the time of labour and work, of teleology or anti-teleology.
Questions to be addressed in this field might also concern questions of reverse projections regarding a golden age, medieval and early modern conceptions of history as well as theological conceptions of time and eternity.
Possible, but not exclusive, lines of inquiry may involve:
anteriority / posteriorly / contemporaneity
persistence / transience / resistance / permanence
material cultures / thing theory
ruins / wrecks / dirt / corpses / ashes / ghosts / gravestones / archives / traces
periodicals / newspapers / intellectual revues / manifestos
the time of reading / the time of writing / the time of theory
narrative time / poetic time
publication histories / reception studies
plasticity / formation / deformation / reformation
innovation / evolution / revolution / entropy / conservation / the environment / crisis
abstract time / affective time / embodied time / empty time / sensual time / time
immaterial temporalities / dreams / utopias / alternate realities / science fiction / fantasy
fashion / the archaic / branding / furniture / architecture
indexicality / markings / signatures / imprints
the matter of memory / photographs / home movies / documentaries / diaries
timeliness / untimeliness
singular temporal experience / collective interventionist practice / the event
durational performance / the long take / eternity
staged matter / sensational cinema
boredom / speed / frustration / enjoyment
changing identities / inter-generational conflict / new identifications / post-identification
modernism / anti-modernism
technology / mechanics / nature
(anti-) teleology / (non-) linear history
Proposals in the following areas (and / or in interdisciplinary perspectives) are welcome : French Literature, Francophone Literatures, Comparative Literature, Literary Theory, Cultural Studies, History, Gender Studies, Linguistics, Translation, Art History, Cinema / Film Studies, Performance / Theatre Studies, Photography, Anthropology.
Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words, and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 22nd of February. We would also particularly welcome proposals for performances and readings which portray an active engagement with the conference theme.
A selection of papers given at the conference will be subsequently edited into a book length publication.