American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) 2012Brown University, Providence, RI
While the motif of apocalypse may primarily evoke images of destruction and ruin, scholars such as Gerhard R. Kaiser inPoesie der Apokalypse have pointed out that this motif is also closely related to themes of rebirth, redemption, or utopia. Tracing the intricacies and paradoxes around the motif of apocalypse, which is synonymous with both devastation and revelation, this seminar will examine means of mediating and relieving life-threatening experiences such as war, exile, oppression, or imprisonment through the process of artistic creation.
How are individual crises reenacted, transformed, or transcended through artistic creation? How is the unspeakable presented linguistically? What is the new that emerges from personal or historical catastrophes?
This seminar invites papers on literature, theory, film, and other forms of artistic expression that address a situation of crisis as groundbreaking or saving force, which enables individuals to emerge as authors, as well as presentations that investigate the motif of apocalypse as the moment of positive potentiality. Heiner Müller, for example, sought to negotiate the concept of “black utopia” – in which nature, the Third World, and the dead emerge as agents that may bring about the revolution, for which a new language is needed. Furthermore, we seek contributions that analyze alternative strategies of survival depicted in literary texts, which allow the protagonists to retain some level of agency. In many of Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt’s texts, for instance, chastisement and coming to terms with the foreign language save the exiled narrators from the incomparably stronger pain of homesickness and mourning.