From: Elizabeth McArthur <>
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2007 11:50:42 -0500 (EST)

CFP: Columbia University Graduate Student Conference: "Twentieth Century Literature and
the Weight of History"

Sponsored by GSAC and the Department of English and Comparative Literature

Friday, April 4 2008

Keynote speaker: Ann Douglas, Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature,
Columbia University

We invite 15-minute papers exploring the relationship between history and literature in
the 20th and 21st centuries as a theoretical, ideological, and methodological problem. We
hope to discuss the challenges inherent in historicized readings of particular texts as
well as in the relationship between literary and historical studies within the academy.
We are particularly interested in investigations of texts that may have an intermediary
status between literature and historical evidence (such as memoirs or documentary film,
theater, or photojournalism) and in new considerations of literary works that have
achieved a monumental status and thus a role in plotting the cultural history of the 20th

Papers might engage with any of the following topics, broadly interpreted:

Literature and making history:
Monuments, memorials and landmark texts; the staging of history (in theaters, museums,
archives); modern retellings of the past; historical fiction(s); the role of the personal
in the public narrative; mapping space and marking time in literary fiction.

The role of memory:
Memoir, autobiography, and questions of authenticity; testimony and trauma; the place and
status of memory studies in the academy; public versus private histories.

History and literary forms:
Literature?s evidentiary status; the influence of film and photography; the documentary;
publication and book history; reading journalism and ephemera; literary categorization
and canonization

Historical and literary studies in the academy:
Historical markers as boundaries for 20th-century literary fields (postcolonial,
pre/post-1945 etc); using literature as historical evidence; reading historical evidence
as literature; academic publishing and disciplinary boundaries; the role and success of
interdisciplinary programs (eg American Studies); the future of historicist literary

Please send an abstract (250 words maximum), along with your contact information,
including active e-mail address, street address and phone number, and any requests for
audio-visual equipment to

Submissions must be received by Friday, January 11, 2008.

(For more information, please contact

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