Friday, March 6th

PANEL 6: TRANSGRESSIONS AGAINST ESTABLISHMENTS I

1) Eser Ari (Western). “A Superfluous Man’s Encounters with the Other: A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov.”

Derived from the term ‘Byronic hero’, the superfluous man is a gifted and wealthy individual who acts outside the social norms and gives into romantic pursuits and at times addictions and obsessions such as gambling and duels. The idea for such a character was developed and popularized in such works as Turgenev’s The Diary of a Superfluous Man, Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Herzen’s Who is to Blame? and Goncharov’s Oblomov. In relation to such seminal works, I will formulate an analysis of the superfluous man, or as the literary term goes, the Russian Byronism in Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time. Pechorin, the novel’s protagonist, encounters and interacts with the Other in the Caucasus, through which he explores his selfness and being. This exploration, however, is complicated by Russian Imperialism and animosity of sorts in the region. I offer in this paper a study of Pechorin as a superfluous man and the Caucasus as the Other through Levinas’ and Sartre’s critical works on selfhood and the otherness.

2) Dru Farro (Western). “Someone must have traduced Josef K.”

‘…it is not the same thing to say that the unconscious is the condition of language as it is to say that language is the condition of the unconscious. Language is the condition of the unconscious – that’s what I say. The way in which one translates it stems from reasons which could, in their detail, be altogether activated by a strictly academic motive’ (Lacan, Sem. XVII, 41).

The unconscious is always in need of translating, since it always arrives as translated, via the symptom. Translation is a kind of key bridging (inter-pret) languages, yet translation (in French, traduction) is never far from betrayal, from punishment, and from slander (traduce). And in the example above Lacan observes a slip – which for psychoanalysis is always a foothold – in translation. This slip takes place in the transference from one discourse to another.

In his 17th seminar Lacan isolates the following four discourses: Master, University, Analyst, and Hysteric, related by the function of the quarter turn. With each turn brings a translation of meaning, of emphasis, and of support such that statements taken for true in one are rendered nonsense in another. My paper begins with this insight: ‘the desire for knowledge bears no relation to knowledge, a distinction which has far reaching consequences from the point of view of pedagogy. What leads to knowledge is the hysteric’s discourse’ (ibid. 23).

I have omitted from this excerpt a word Lacan coyly suggests before retreating from it: transgression.

I will not pose a question so as to answer it, not when the stakes concern our function as researchers and teachers. The university is locked in its discourse, the modern version of the Master’s Discourse (Lacan’s words). Commitment to this structure is a symptom of a desire either invisible or disavowed. This paper will reveal it.

3) Michael Swingen (Dartmouth). “Mortification of the Text: Violence and Presence in the Poetry of Stephane Mallarme and Hart Crane.”

My presentation is guided by two encompassing questions. 1.) What was the hegemonic poetry Mallarmé opposed in the French literary tradition? 2.) How did Mallarmé’s poetry mount resistance to it? My response to the first of the questions will provide the contextual backdrop needed to engage the multiple issues embedded in the second question: what compelled Mallarmé to liberate his poetic project from the dominant tradition? And how did his writing invigorate a counter-narrative opposed to that tradition?

Although I intend to refine these claims, at this point I would argue that Mallarmé experienced the prevailing artistic conventions and attitudes antithetical to his own motives and desires: Mallarmé’s poetry presents the desire to realize an unmediated, intense experience of original presence in language, free from the references and obligations of epistemological traditions such as literary history and, more particularly, the dominant modernist poetry it sanctioned. I intend to argue that in realizing this desire of original presence Stephane Mallarmé was driven by what I would call rhetorical hubris: a desire to break down and transcend language in order to make the word instantiate presence rather than re-presentation or reference.

PANEL 7: DISPERSED IDENTITIES AND TRANSECTED FIGURES 

1) Nicole Eitzen-Delgado (Dartmouth). “Bodies ‘Becoming’ as Borderlands, Bridges: Tracing Online Xicanismos and their Various Identity ‘Crossings’.”

This essay will propose an examination of how online spaces self-identified or recognized by this author as “Xicanismos” are reflective of the “Xicana” (or Chicano feminist) print discourse of the 1980’s in the United States. To do so, this essay will pay close attention to Xicanismo’s grounding on a particular understanding of “becoming”, in this case, the passage between given and constructed identities (exemplified in the “body as borderland” and “body as bridge” metaphors). Focusing primarily on the mixed-race, queer experience, this essay will draw from the anthology This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color as theory and proceed to an analysis of the identity “crossings” taking place in the online spaces of xicanachronicles.com, Alma López’ digital art gallery, and Alicia Bag’s personal blog “Diary of a Bad Housewife”. Among other concerns, this essay looks to inform how these online Xicanismos are of essentialist and constructionist value to the creation of a postmodern Latino subjectivity and more generally, address the following question: is the Internet truly experienced as “borderless space” by Xicanas and Xicanos today?

2) Alexandre Paquet (Toronto). “Reconsidering Gender in Anime and Manga Through a Transnational Lens.”

Anime and manga have been staples of Japanese culture for many decades, but their reach far exceeds that of Japan. Their specific character designs, graphic violence and overly-sexualized female characters have been both the centre of critiques and admiration, building dynamic communities of fans around the globe. As one browses through the exhaustive historiography on gender in anime and manga however, it becomes apparent that, not only do many questions remain unexplored, but also that a new theoretical framework might indeed be needed to understand manga and anime from a new perspective. On one hand, many existing studies have limited their focus to Japan and its national culture in their analysis. On the other hand, most studies adopting a transnational approach have the unfortunate tendency to focus primarily on the communities of fans, thus distancing themselves from the subject matter of anime and manga. As a preliminary step for this research on gender in manga and anime, the next few pages will then explore in more details how this current historiography on the topic has been unable to fully embrace a transnational analysis of gender in manga and anime. I will do so firstly by exposing how interpretations of the feminine, discussions on the technological body, and explorations of trans-masculinities, while they do offer valuable avenues of research, are ultimately unable to go beyond Japanese national culture discourse; and secondly by suggesting that studies concerned with transnationality in regards to anime and manga have too often limited the scope of their analysis to questions of global consumption or fandom communities and otaku culture, thus failing to engage adequately with gender-related issues.

3) Rachel Wong. (TBA.)

PANEL 8: NUEVAS IDENTIDADES DE ORIGENES INESTABLES [NEW IDENTITIES FROM UNSTABLE ORIGINS]

1) Jaime Brenes-Reyes (Western). “Trance con objetivo: sobre la memoria en la prosa de Felisberto Hernández.”

Los límites entre sujeto y objeto desaparecen en la prosa cuentista del influyente, pero no muy conocido, autor uruguayo Felisberto Hernández. Partiendo de una lectura del relato “El caballo perdido”, publicado en 1943, las memorias de la niñez del narrador se envuelven en un viaje entre objetos de referencia que sacuden la subjetividad del personaje. Así, propongo una visión de memoria en trance, de posesión del ambiente en varias dimensiones de lo real, que da vida a una otredad dentro de un sujeto que se pierde en un trans-humanismo para convertirse, poco a poco, en una nueva figura. De igual importancia, analizo el impacto sobre el lector de la prosa de Hernández, con sus profundos y maleables ensamblajes entre autor-texto-lector, del cual surge una visión trans- íntegra de la memoria.

2) Mary Carmen Vera Lopez (Western). “Bestias medievales en la narrativa hispanoamericana del siglo XX.”

Este trabajo se inscribe en las posibilidades que abren los estudios trasatlánticos para hacer una aproximación a los bestiarios medievales y su influencia en algunos ejemplos de la narrativa hispanoamericana contemporánea.

La propuesta es presentar una lectura que exponga brevemente la historia y el simbolismo que tuvieron los bestiarios en la Edad Media europea. Posteriormente, al arribar a América, se transforman en singulares representaciones artísticas que tendrán influencia y otra reconfiguración en la literatura hispanoamericana actual.

3) Edgar Yanez Zapata (Western). “Entre muros y lamentos. Grafiti y polarización política en Venezuela.”

El grafiti y otras formas de arte urbano en la ciudad capital venezolana son los protagonistas de este trabajo. A través del análisis semiótico de la retórica visual del graffiti, son descifrados sus discursos y hay una aproximación a su audiencia. Se conocerán códigos nada secretos para el transeúnte local (pero que retan la mirada foránea), y su aparente efímero poder transformador de la estética de la ciudad de Caracas, durante el período 1999-2013 de la Revolución Bolivariana. Se analizará el rol del grafiti como termómetro gráfico de un país polarizado, y como espacio de opinión que por momentos complementa, y en otros sustituye a medios de comunicación como la prensa, la radio o la televisión.

En este recorrido por la estética del grafiti venezolano se constatará que, además de haber cobrado la estatura de instrumento propagandístico del estado, ha definido territorios geográficos en la ciudad, mientras indica la intensidad de la polarización política en el país. También son señaladas las consecuencias estéticas que ha tenido para la ciudad, la coexistencia de pares dialécticos antagónicos en torno a modelos de país igualmente opuestos. En el trabajo se señala la condición  escenográfica del grafiti y se propone una taxonomía que subraya sus roles expresivos y comunicacionales. Los signos de polarización política presentes en el graffiti caraqueño se manifiestan en relaciones de acción-reacción ante mensajes emitidos, y en una compleja dialéctica de la significación, inédita en la historia de la estética urbana venezolana.

PANEL 9: ART AND AR(T)CHIVING

1) Troy Bordun (Trent). “Porn in the Art Gallery: Collecting a Genre.”

In late August, 2014, I curated a small exhibition entitled Stags, Sexploitation, and Hard Core: Moving Image Pornography up to 1972 at an artist-run center in Peterborough, ON. I think the unusual setting for pornography offers me a chance to consider the genre’s aesthetics, the nature of collecting and curatorship, and spectators’ relationship to disciplining spaces. For the exhibition I decided upon a number of films to play simultaneously throughout the gallery and designed panels composed of stills, promotional materials, and text. Its purpose was to bring a small portion of pornography’s history to the public.

This presentation details and recounts my experience of curating and provides some observations about the aforementioned topics (genre, collecting, and “sensory disciplining” [Dennis 2009]). I turn to Rick Altman to aid me in theorizing genres and their formation and transformation and Stanley Cavell to note the similarities between curatorship and a philosophy of collecting. My main contention in this presentation is that moving pornographic materials into an art gallery is one among many possible spaces to view such work; the definition of the genre is therefore not static nor pre-established before individuals’ interpretative processes. The uncommon space hopefully provided spectators the opportunity to rethink or reimagine what the definition of pornography could be in the 21st century. However, what this definition was largely determined by my selection of materials and how they were organized. Thus the exhibition was also a personal collection of pornographic works that matter to me. I thus recount the ways in which visitors attended to certain materials and did not attend to others. Through my observations and reading anonymous surveys about visitors’ experiences, I discovered that the organization and architecture of the gallery maintained a critical distance between spectators and materials, as in a conventional gallery (Williams 1995; Dennis 2009), despite my efforts to produce the opposite effect.

2) Nicole Clouston (Victoria). “Exploring the Ineffable: Art and Science.”

Working at the intersection of art and science in my studio practice, I was confronted with the perceived barrier between the two fields and began to question what role studio- based research should or could play in our understanding of the scientific. Although both seek to pose questions and find answers to them, art and science are often understood as opposing disciplines. This dissertation analyses the ways in which artistic research differs from scientific research and how together, art and science are capable of producing a more complete body of knowledge. This is done through analyzing five points of comparison:

1. The clarification of and adherence to the initial research question
2. Subjective vs. objective methods – the aspiration to objectivity
3. The influences of funding
4. The forms of communicating research results
5. The capacity to communicate and consider the ineffable

Inquiries often made by scientists about the nature of life, about the limits on our abilities to shape life processes, transcend academic categories. These major cultural questions are not only scientific, but can benefit from artistic research as well. I am passionate about my belief that art that explores scientific frontiers is an act of relevance, not only to a select few, but also to our culture as a whole. Art and science do take different approaches to how research is executed, but these differences do not render one more valuable than the other. Rather their differences demonstrate need for both.

3) Kevin Godbout (Western). “The Melancholy Ar(t)chivist; or, How Walter Benjamin Imagined Nineteenth Century Life.”

Melancholy marks the transitions from one understanding of life to another, and the resistance to this transition. The modern, post-Enlightenment subject of the nineteenth century has lost contact with their old cosmologies and its gods: the old “forest of symbols” has ceased to compute. Artists negotiate the liminal breaches to give their art space in the world, even if only on the canvas or on the page. The modern artist, no longer sure of where to go and how to get there, becomes indecisive and strains to lift the brush or pen. There will be no return to Eden after the French Revolution, only a further trudging into industrialization and commodification. The confrontation with the limits of modern life, and the human imagination’s ability to conceive the breach or excess of these limitations, beckons forth, at times and in certain people, a particular madness, but also a genius, to radically change their alienating circumstances. The attempt or challenge put to the world is not always successful. It occassionally resembles an acute form of insanity or mental illness. Sometimes the push to change becomes a resistance against imminent disaster. Sometimes this resistance to change is the disaster. This resistance is inherently tragic and absurd, like the man on the beach who sees the tidal wave coming in and tries to stop it by lifting a hand. Walter Benjamin’s *Passagenwerk* is neither a painting nor a work of literature, yet it stands as one of the greatest works of the imagination in Western art history. The *Passagenwerk* imagines a Europe which awakens from its insane slumber into fanaticism, warfare and mass-murder and says one only needs to look back at the unfulfilled history of the nineteenth century, the one National Socialism desperately tried to annihilate, to find the signposts which might yet steer society away from disaster and ruin.

PANEL 10: BODIES IN PERFORMANCE

1) Tanya Farnung-Morrison (Buffalo). “Back to the Future: Transmitting Personal Politics in La plasmatoria.

Scholars widely debate the legacy of Pedro Muñoz Seca, a conservative playwright active during the politically and socially tumultuous Spanish Second Republic (1931-39), and his approximately 300 theater works. While Salvador García Castañeda identifies the formula that Muñoz Seca employed to generate his commercial successes, César Oliva describes how the writer manipulated this formula in order to explore some of the issues, such as the rigid social hierarchy, contributing to Spain’s political divisions. However, these perspectives have only briefly addressed the issue of Second Republic politics in Muñoz Seca’s works as part of a more general description of the methods and characteristics of the playwright and his production. My presentation addresses the issue of Muñoz Seca’s political message with special attention to the conservative inclination to “return to the past.” Specifically, in my presentation, I look at La plasmatoria, staged in 1935 in Madrid, in order to show that the playwright explored key political issues in his work just before the start of the Spanish Civil War the following year. I will discuss both the historical use and the circular nature of myth, and juxtapose them against Second Republic conservative politics and Muñoz Seca’s reinterpretation of the Spanish mythical figure of Don Juan in La plasmatoria, in order to construct a more extended analysis of one of Muñoz Seca’s notable works. I argue that the playwright rewrites the character of Don Juan as a champion for the conservative cause in order to transmit his own political perspective to a sympathetic audience. In conclusion, this presentation, by closely examining the reincarnation of Don Juan in Muñoz Seca’s La plasmatoria, provides depth on the superficially explored issue of politics in Muñoz Seca’s plays.

2) Dorothea Hines (Trent). “Organs? You Make A Do Yourself Without How Body.”

In A Thousand Plateaus (1987), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari examine the body without organs in their plateau entitled, November 28, 1947: How Do You Make Yourself A Body Without Organs? And this is indeed the question: how do you make yourself a body without organs? I have come to realize that most scholars present their work on the body without organs as a body with organs; this has left me to wonder, what would happen if someone presented as a body without organs? Are bodies without organs unintelligible to bodies with organs? And can there be intelligibility in the unintelligible? I plan to find out.

3) Ana Paliy (Toronto). “Re-masculating Effeminacies: Examining Travesty and Transvestism in Classical New Comedy and Twentieth-Century American Cinema.”

What is it about the vision of a man in a dress that so swiftly rouses audience members to the edges of their seats? On the theatre stage and on-screen, feminine aesthetics enacted by costumed male bodies have time and time again been deployed as an avenue for conveying comedic and satirical intentions, from Aristophanic farce to Plautine situation comedy to Hollywood cinema. In juxtaposing the clever ways in which “male” and “female” gender symbolisms have been visually (re)postured by means of transvestism from Classical antiquity to the twentieth century, it becomes clear that cross-dressing as a means of carnivalesque disguise has historically served to enable an ontological ambivalence in theories of theatrical representation: that of fluctuation between mimesis and mimicry. Recently, in films such as “Some Like It Hot” (1959), “Tootsie” (1982), and “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), wardrobe iconography has arisen as instrumental in staging a critique of typical conventions expected of archetypal male protagonists by spectators. As such, the use of ridicule in these moving pictures motivates a subversive new function for laughter: namely, as a confrontational measure geared toward attracting audience attention to the ways that drag culture and gender fluidity at-large yield new spaces for reflection on the definitions of the terms “man” and “woman”. These films are particularly invested in the representation of male-to-female cross- dressing as a means of nurturing narrative structures which catalyze homo-erotic encounter between male characters, and can thus subtly help to destabilize phallogocentric discursive systems from their dichotomous habits – pun intended.

4) Anda Pleniceanu (Western). “Antonin Artaud’s Infected Wound.”

“the internal nothingness
of my self
which is night,
nothingness,
thoughtlessness,
but which is explosive afrmation
that there is
something
to make room for:
my body” (Antonin Artaud, Selected Writings, 565)

For Artaud, the body is a stage and pain is the element that breaks the order,
the normalcy and the convention. Artaud’s idea of pain and sufering is
influenced by Nietzsche’s own, who claims, in his work “Beyond Good and
Evil”, that only through sufering can humanity truly rise above its mediocrity
and achieve greatness. Concerned with transgressing the hegemonic
architecture of the societal body, Artaud writes, in “The Theatre and its
Double”: “we must construct the spiritual physiognomy of a disease which
progressively destroys the organism like a pain which, as it intensifies and
deepens, multiplies its resources and means of access at every level of the
sensibility.” (23). The same is true for theatre: the stage must be purified of
the hegemonic power of language and text.

This paper is an exploration of Artaud’s pain: its role on stage and outside,
with a focus on the political function of pain—that of transgressing norms.
The abolition of speech is necessary in order to replace the order of language
with the rawness of physical gesture, a gesture that breaks down and
wounds the body of convention. The site of performance is to be
transformed, through pain, into a place of cruelty, where the blow is directed
towards himself as well as towards the audience in order to liberate one from
the “terrible and necessary cruelty which things can exercise against
us.”(Theatre and its Double, 79) Theatre has been stripped of of sensibility, it
has drowned in thoughtful slumber. Artaud’s intervention is the wound that
wakes it up and returns it to its crude origins.

PANEL 11: TRANSFORMATIVE FEMINISMS

1) Eremire Krasniqi (Dartmouth). (TBA.)

2) Laura O’Brien (Concordia). “‘Fallen’ From Grace: The Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Nineteenth-Century Montreal.”

This research project revolves around the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) register from the McCord archive in Montreal, Canada. The register documents the comings and goings of 3,101 women from the year 1887 to the year 1897 through the WCTU shelter. Within the columns of the register, the Matron recorded the name of the woman, how she had “fallen”, the amount of time that she stayed in the WCTU, where she came from and where she went following her stay.

While the WCTU was a Protestant social reform union dedicated to providing support to women’s suffering from addiction to alcohol and other substances, the register reveals that the WCTU shelter did not only house inebriate women, but a wide range of marginalized women including prostitutes, women accused of adultery, and the elderly. Through analysing data drawn from the WCTU register, the shelter emerges as part of a closed-circuit structure of control aimed at concealing bodies who were seen as threats to the moral fiber of nineteenth-century Montreal.

By focusing on two types of bodies that were widely perceived as deviant – the body of the alcoholic (the addict) and the sexualized body (the prostitute or the seduced woman) – this research demonstrates the widespread anxiety surrounding contagion, both moral and physical in the nineteenth-century urban sphere. Furthermore, the register facilitates fascinating insight into the lives of these women and animates the circulation patterns of marginalized women through nineteenth-century Montreal.

3) Meghan Riley (Waterloo). (TBA.)

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