Past Conferences

2016 Conference

Conference, Fall 2016Aesthetics Afterlives: Memory, Transfiguration and the Arts
Date: September 9-10, 2016
Keynote Speaker: Jonathan Holloway, Dean of Yale College and Professor of History and
African American Studies
Location: Aaron Burr 219, Princeton University, New Jersey

The last four decades have witnessed a phenomenal upsurge of interest in memory and memory studies. Spurred on by the unprecedented destruction of World War II, memory studies as many know it today has evolved in a largely Euro-centric context. But the last two decades have seen groundbreaking work in overcoming regional as well as disciplinary boundaries. Many scholars now reject the so-called "competition" model of trauma, which implicitly pits one community's suffering against another, finding instead that the study of commemoration can affirm and encompass the full diversity of human experience and loss. Scholars have also taken new interdisciplinary strides, blending critical study of the arts with the study of memory as well as personal narrative, as our keynote speaker, Jonathan Holloway, does in Jim Crow Wisdom.

Recent developments in the study of memory, from Michael Rothberg’s Multidirectional Memory to Benjamin Stora’s La gangrène de l’oubli, highlight the struggle between the desire to remember and the need to forget, which has taken center stage in discussions about memory and its uses. Pierre Nora's concepts of lieux and milieux de mémoire have inspired both praise and controversy regarding the relationship between memory and history; memory and space; and memory and artifacts in societies’ efforts to institute archives or commemorate important events. Between the preservation of sites of commemoration, such as Ground Zero and Parque de la Memoria, and the state-imposed silence on commemorative spaces under repressive governments, memory has become a much more self-conscious societal focus.

All these developments have strong aesthetic dimensions. The third annual conference of the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton will undertake a two-day reflection on these issues of memory in artistic works and practice, broadly conceived. We see opportunities for new exploration of the way memory is preserved, transmitted, changed, resignified, and reinvented in works of art, and especially in "translation" from one work or medium to another.

We invite conference participants and community members to join us in considering such questions as: How is the memory of a war or violent event reconceptualized in aesthetic representations? How does kitchification transform the memory of an original event? How does mnemonic intertextuality change memories? How do artists transmit one another's work, and extend one another's reach (or their own) in posterity? In what ways does a painting or photograph establish the afterlife of its subject, or does a composer extend the life of a text or image "translated" into music? Can the various art forms do justice to one another? Can they do without each other? How do different translators re-write or change texts and memories? How does the artistic medium transform, change or adapt the memory of an event, experience, person or another work of art? What is the role of the scholar in the commemoration of the dead, and the living? How do issues of memory figure in the Public Humanities movement? These questions concern us not only as scholars, but also as citizens and human beings, and they can inform our approach to the scholar's ideal role in society.

Potential papers might explore these subjects:

• Literature's refiguration of the memory of specific events
• Translation and resignification of memories
• Ekphrastic "translation," comparative media, and intermedial transmission (e.g., poetry set to music)
• Musical compositions and their particular mode of transmission
• Resignifying mnemonic sites
• Memory and palimpsest
• Food as memory
• Memory and trace(s)

Abstracts no longer than 500 words are due to by June 10, 2016. Please
include your full name, the title of your paper and your institutional affiliation in your abstract.

2015 Conference























Sandra BermannSandra Bermann

Cotsen Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature, Princeton University

Professor Bermann specializes in literary theory, poetry and poetics, and translation theory and practice.  Her current projects focus on lyric poetry, the intersections between 20th-century historiography and literary theory, and new directions in the field of comparative literature. She is the author of several books and edited volumes, including The Sonnet over Time: Studies in the Sonnets of Petrarch, Shakespeare and Baudelaire; and Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation.  She co-founded the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication and is a former chair of the Department of Comparative Literature.  She led the Working Group to create Princeton’s Bridge Year Program, and serves now as Master of Whitman College.

She is a former President of the American Comparative Literature Association.

Claudia BrodskyClaudia Brodsky

Claudia Brodsky studied comparative literature at Harvard and Yale, German literature and philosophy at the Universities of Freiburg and Munich, and French literature at the Sorbonne. Before joining the Dept. of Comparative Literature at Princeton, she was a member of the German Dept. at Yale, where she taught German language and comparative literature. Recipient of DAAD, Danforth, Whiting, Howard, and Humboldt Fellowships, she is the author of The Imposition of Form. Studies in Narrative Representation and Knowledge; Lines of Thought: Discourse, Architectonics, and the Origin of Modern Philosophy; In the Place of Language: Literature and the Architecture of the Referent, and many articles on 17th through 20th-century literature and philosophy. She co-edited Brith of a Nation'hood with Toni Morrison, and Inventing Subjects. Essays in the Philosophical and Literary Origins of the Modern Subject (forthcoming 2016), with Eloy LaBrada, and is Editor of the forthcoming special Theories and Methodologies issue of PMLA, "Why Philosophy" (2016).  She was elected Directeur de Programme of the College International de Philosophie, Paris, and served as invited Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Freiburg. At Princeton she teaches seminars in narrative and lyric, 16th- through 20th-century; in modern literary, aesthetic and critical theory, and in discursive philosophy and theory, Descartes through Marx.

Sarah ChihayaSarah Chihaya

Sarah Chihaya is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Princeton University, where she specializes in contemporary British fiction and film. She is currently at work on her first book, The Unseen World: Metanarrative and Contemporary Fiction, and is the editor of Contemporaries at Post45

Alexandra Chreiteh 

Alexandra Chreiteh is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at Yale University. Her dissertation, Fantastic Cohabitations: Magical Realism in Arabic and Hebrew and the Politics of Aesthetics is a comparative study of magical realism, a genre that migrated to Hebrew and Arabic from Latin America, coalescing in the mid-1980s. The generic conventions of magical realism, characteristically read as a national response to colonial paradigms of representation, are transplanted into contemporary Hebrew and Arabic literature and film to express a post-national consciousness. Magical realist texts in Arabic and Hebrew subvert the state’s erasure of ethnic, religious, gender, and language minorities, redefining identity on their own terms. Alexandra is also an author of two novels in Arabic, Always Coca-Cola (2009) and Ali and his Russian Mother (2010). Her work has been translated into English and German.

Craig Eklund 

Craig Eklund is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Yale University. He is currently at work on a dissertation on Proust, Joyce, and Beckett.

Karen FeldmanKaren Feldman

Karen Feldman is Associate Professor of German at UC Berkeley. She is author of Binding Words: Conscience and Rhetoric in Hobbes, Hegel and Heidegger (Northwestern UP 2007), and of articles in Philosophy and Rhetoric, MLN, Germanic Review, Angelaki and other publications on issues pertaining to the Frankfurt School, aesthetics, philosophy of history, and phenomenology.

Hannan HeverHannan Hever 

Hannan Hever is Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at Yale University. He previously taught at the Hebrew University-Jerusalem, where he also served as the chair of The School of Literatures. Prof. Hever has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Northewestern University; Columbia University; and the Jewish Theological Seminary. His main areas of research and teaching are cultural history of Modern Hebrew poetry and prose, the history of critical theory, Postcolonial readings of Modern Hebrew literature, and theory of cultural and literary critique; he is now also studying the history of the Hassidic tale. Prof. Hever has edited several important collections of Israeli poetry and fiction, and is the author of many books on Hebrew literature, including Suddenly the Sight of War: Nationalism and Violence in the Hebrew Poetry of the 1940s (Hebrew) (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2001), Producing the Modern Hebrew Canon, Nation Building and Minority Discourse (New York University Press, 2002), Toward the Longed-For Shore: The Sea in Modern Hebrew Culture (Hebrew) (Hakibbutz Hameuchad and the Van Leer Institute, 2007), and With the Power of God: Theology and Politics in Modern Hebrew Literature (Hebrew) (Hakibbutz Hameuchad and the Van Leer Institute 2013).

Michael JenningsMichael Jennings

Michael Jennings is the Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages in the Department of German at Princeton and an Associated Faculty Member of the Department of Art and Archaeology, the Department of French and Italian, and the School of Architecture. He is the author of two books on Walter Benjamin: Dialectical Images: Walter Benjamin’s Theory of Literary Criticism (Cornell University Press, 1987) and, with Howard Eiland, Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life (Harvard University Press, 2014). He also serves as the general editor of the standard English-language edition of Benjamin’s works, Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings (Harvard University Press, four volumes, 1996ff.) and the editor of a series of collections of Benjamin’s texts intended for classroom use, including The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire (2007); with Brigid Doherty and Thomas Levin, The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility and other Writings on Media (2008) ; and One Way Street (forthcoming in 2016). His new translation of Walter Benjamin's Origin of German Trauerspiel (with Howard Eiland) will appear in 2016. His published work includes articles on the theory of art history (Alois Riegl, Wihelm Worringer), modernism in its relationship to capitalist modernity (Robert Musil, Franz Kafka, Uwe Johnson), Weimar culture (Berlin Dada, Alfred Döblin, Thomas Mann, forms of literary criticism), eighteenth-century aesthetics (Sturm und Drang, J.M.R. Lenz, Friedrich Hölderlin),  modern media (print culture and modernism), and German photography (Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, August Sander, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Michael Schmidt). He is the editor, with Detlef Mertins, of a facsimile edition of the avantgarde journal G: Journal of Elemental Form-Creation, (Gerry Research Institute, 2010);  with Tobias Wilke, of a special issue of Grey Room on Walter Benjamin and the Theory of Media; and with Stanley Corngold, of a special issue of Monatshefte on Kafka's Late Style. He is currently at work on two book projects: a critical biography of Bertolt Brecht and a study of the German photo-essay in the twentieth century.

Sara PursleySara Pursley

Sara Pursley is a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows. She is the author of several articles, including "The Stage of Adolescence: Anticolonial Time, Youth Insurgency, and the Marriage Crisis in Hashimite Iraq," History of the Present (Fall 2013), and is currently working on her first book manuscript, Familiar Futures: Time, Selfhood, and Sovereignty in Iraq, 1920-63 (Stanford University Press, in contract). In fall 2016 she will join the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU as an assistant professor of modern Middle East history.

Rei TeradaRei Terada

Rei Terada is Professor of Comparative Literature at UC Irvine, where she also teaches in the Program in Culture and Theory. She previously taught at UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is the author of *Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the 'Death of the Subject'* (Harvard UP, 2001; René Wellek Prize, 2001-02) and "Looking Away: Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction, Kant to Adorno* (Harvard UP, 2009). Her recent essays can be found in Qui Parle, Journal of Contemporary Thought (India), European Romantic Review, Romantic Circles, and SAQ.

John Whittier-FergusonJohn Whittier-Ferguson

John Whittier-Ferguson is a Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author, most recently, of Mortality and Form in Late Modernist Literature (Cambridge 2014)—a study of the late poetry and prose of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, and Wyndham Lewis. He is also the author of Framing Pieces: Designs of the Gloss in James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Ezra Pound (Oxford 1996) and editor, with Richard Ellmann and A. Walton Litz, of James Joyce: Poems and Shorter Writings (Faber 1991). He has also published on modernism and modern wars and is currently working on cruelty in the fiction of Ford Madox Ford. He received his PhD in English from Princeton in 1990.

Dominik ZechnerDominik Zechner

Dominik Zechner studied media studies and philosophy in Vienna and New York. Having received his Magister der Philosophie for a thesis on Derrida’s Mal d’archive in 2013, D.Z. joined NYU German the same year on a mission to explore the question of finitude in literature. He has taught for NYU's Department of Comparative Literature as well as the German Department’s language program. Dominik has held summer school fellowships at the universities of Basel, Bern, and Zurich, and stayed as visiting scholar at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee. He has presented his work in several countries, including Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Taiwan, Canada, and the US. Forthcoming articles on Avital Ronell, Jacques Derrida, Franz Kafka, and Friedrich Kittler.



Friday, October 23
Aaron Burr Hall, Room 219
1:30-2:00 Opening remarks
Irina Simova, Sheera Talpaz, Jennifer Huang
Eileen Reeves


Keynote address
Rei Terada, “Historical Transition and Transition as Such”
3:30-4:00   Coffee break
4:00-6:00 Panel I, Other Lives: Narrative Revisions of Time
John Whittier-Ferguson, "Stop-Time: History and the Fictions of Ford Madox Ford"
Sarah Chihaya, "Death After Death: Revisiting Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life"
Craig Eklund, "The Possibilities of History in Ulysses"
Sandra Bermann, "Temporal Imagining in Rene Char's Poetry"
  Elspeth Green, Chair 
Michael Wood, Respondent
6:00-8:00 Dinner
  Saturday, October 24
9:00-10:00 Breakfast
10:00-12:00  Panel II, Politics &/of Subjectivity in Hebrew & Arabic Narratives (Aaron Burr 219)
Hannan Hever, “The Politics of the Hasidic Tale”
Sara Pursley, “Familiar Futures: Sex, Time, and Decolonization in the Writings of Iraqi Sociologist
`Ali al-Wardi”
Alexandra Chreiteh, “Magical Realism in Arabic and Hebrew and the Political Aesthetics of Becoming”
  Brahim El Guabli, Chair
Lital Levy, Respondent
12:00-1:30    Lunch


Panel III, Phenomenology of Time(s): History and Experience (Aaron Burr 219)
Karen Feldman, "Arts of Connection: On Epochal Phenomenology"
Dominik Zechner, “On Screwing up in Dying: Kafka’s Anahistory”
Michael Jennings, “Biography as (Cultural) History”
  Antonio Iannarone, Chair
Stanley Corngold, Respondent
3:30-4:00    Coffee break


Round table (Aaron Burr 219)
John Whittier-Ferguson, Chair
Claudia Brodsky, Response to keynote address
Closing remarks
5:30-7:30 Dinner