seminar: "Writing 1848"
American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting
Brown University, March 29 - April 1, 2012

Marked by revolution, political upheaval, collapse, and change throughout Europe, 1848 represents a series of historical breaks: from the Communist Manifesto to Balzac; from women taking up arms in revolutionary action to the first moments of the women’s movement in Europe and in America; from Wagner to Keller in Heidelberg and Stifter in Linz; from a new national constitution in Switzerland to a new president in the French Second Republic; from Romanticism to Realism, modernism and modernity and beyond.

If 1848 could be said to represent caesurae in politics and history, does this also hold true for literature?  This seminar will explore the ways in which texts document, celebrate, represent, react to, refuse, or perpetuate this revolution, and welcomes submissions from all fields and areas of interest.

Possible questions could include: How, to what extent, and in what forms and voices does revolutionary, or reactionary, action find its way into text at all?  What possibilities does the discourse of revolution open for literature?  Does it demand, or create, new genres and new forms of expression?  What is the role played by gender?  As women take up arms, do they also take up the pen?

Could 1848 be understood as opening discourses on the genres, and genders, of catastrophe that reach beyond the immediate moment of (failed) revolution?

In short, are we still reading and writing the effects of 1848?

For more information on the unique three-day seminar format, see the ACLA 2012 website:   

Please submit abstracts for a 15-20 minute paper through the ACLA 2012 meeting site by November 15, 2011:

Kathryn McEwen
Vanderbilt University, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages
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