American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Annual Meeting 2018
Los Angeles March 29–April 1, 2018


The Languages of Truth

Organizers: Jan Mieszkowski (Reed); Julia Ng (Goldsmiths, U of London)

A simple true/false dichotomy is one of the first casualties of a critical discourse. Nonetheless, few discussions of aesthetics and politics proceed without at least some minimal deference to the concept of truth, however qualified or ironized. In this seminar, we will explore the contributions of literary studies to the elaboration—and critique—of different notions of verity, veracity, and candor. We will be concerned with how the claim to speak the truth may implicate one in paradoxical understandings of language. We will also consider the ways in which form as well as content can be characterized as true or false.

Our wager is that literary studies is uniquely situated to elaborate new analyses of the classical relationship between logic and rhetoric. What would it mean to formulate an argument that is not made in the name of truth and what might be gained—or lost—in trying to do so? While we hope to avoid simply rehearsing traditional philosophical debates, we are interested in how canonical writers shed light on recent conversations about “truthiness,” “alternative facts,” and the so-called “post-truth” era.

Possible topics to explore include:

  *   truth in/of method
  *   ideology critique as a continuation of or substitute for the traditional discourse on truth
  *   the affective registers of truth (sincerity, the desire to express one’s true feelings, authenticity)
  *   truth-telling and power
  *   the materiality of truth
  *   true fables, the facticity of fiction
  *   truth in/and/as lie
  *   varieties—and paradoxes—of “non-being”
  *   aesthetic truths, objektiver Schein
  *   the whole is the (un)true
  *   Wahrheitsgehalt vs. Sachgehalt

Please submit 250-300 word proposals for twenty-minute papers through the ACLA portal ( during the submission period (August 31 – September 21). Interested individuals are encouraged to contact the seminar organizers by email with inquiries. The seminar organizers will review all submitted papers and propose their rosters to the ACLA; the ACLA Program Committee will review all submitted seminars for consideration for inclusion in the program in October/November.

Contact: mieszkow [at] / [at]

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Sean Franzel
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
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