MLA Convention: a few sessions of interest

Here are a few sessions at the upcoming MLA Convention that we thought might interest some of our readers. If you know, or learn, of any others, please take a moment to mention them in the comments to this post. To search the program for the 2011 MLA Convention, please click here (MLA membership and login required).

Thursday, 06 January

44. Surface and Depth: How We Read Now

12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Olympic II, J. W. Marriott

Program arranged by the Marxist Literary Group

Presiding: Jason Potts, Saint Francis Xavier Univ.

1. “Learning to See: Reading Raymond Williams Now,” Jason Baskin, Univ. of Wyoming

2. “The Politics of the Political Unconscious,” Barbara Clare Foley, Rutgers Univ., Newark

3. “The Turn Away from Marxism; or, Why We Read the Way We Read Now,” Charles Sumner, Univ. of Southern Mississippi

Respondents: Stephen M. Best, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Sharon Marcus, Columbia Univ.


Sunday, 09 January

705. Wittgenstein and Literature

8:30–9:45 a.m., 304A, LA Convention Center

Program arranged by the Division on Philosophical Approaches to Literature

Presiding: Ann Austin Smock, Univ. of California, Berkeley

1. “Speaking of Ethics: Coetzee and Wittgenstein on the Importance of the First Person,” Yi-Ping Ong, Harvard Univ.

2. “Reading Wittgenstein Reading Tolstoy: Saying and Showing in ‘The Three Hermits,” Douglas Duhaime, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

3. “Where Language Speaks: Wittgenstein and Milner,” Dora Zhang, Princeton Univ.


Sunday, 09 January

735. Theory after “Theory”

10:15–11:30 a.m., Plaza II, J. W. Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Jane Elliott, Univ. of York

Speakers: Amanda S. Anderson, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD; Eva Cherniavsky, Univ. of Washington, Seattle; Claire M. Colebrook, Penn State Univ., University Park; Martin Hägglund, Harvard Univ.; Sianne Ngai, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; Cary Wolfe, Rice Univ.

Respondent: Derek Attridge, Univ. of York

It seems that theory is outliving the very propositions that once defined “theory.” This session will offer an opportunity to discuss the parameters of this transformation, identifying and evaluating the current intellectual and institutional trends at work. Participants will focus their statements on two objectives: introducing the core insights of their new work to the audience and suggesting how this work relates to current directions in theory.


Sunday, 09 January

802. Beyond Critique: Reading after the Hermeneutics of Suspicion

1:45–3:00 p.m., Platinum Salon C, J. W. Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Bernard Rhie, Williams Coll.

1. “Art Works as Nonhuman Actors,” Rita Felski, Univ. of Virginia

2. “What about Ideology?” Sharon Marcus, Columbia Univ.

3. “Reading Philosophically,” Toril Moi, Duke Univ.

4 thoughts on “MLA Convention: a few sessions of interest

  1. Here’s another session I came across, while looking through the program:

    Sunday, 09 January

    755. What Is Posthumanism? Responding to Cary Wolfe

    12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Diamond Salon 1, J. W. Marriott

    A special session

    Presiding: Emily Clark, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison; Alastair Hunt, Portland State Univ.

    Speakers: David L. Clark, McMaster Univ.; Emily Clark; Claire M. Colebrook, Penn State Univ., University Park; Anne-Lise François, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Alastair Hunt; Kari Weil, Wesleyan Univ.

    Respondent: Cary Wolfe, Rice Univ.

    This session considers Wolfe’s book What Is Posthumanism? and its intervention in discourses of the human and humanism. Each of the speakers will provide critical perspectives most prescient to, and very frequently absent from, emerging posthuman theory. Speakers include literature scholars working in the fields of critical animal theory, human rights, feminist theory, continental philosophy, and disability studies.

  2. I already heard 802. Beyond Critique: Reading after the Hermeneutics of Suspicion — but you weren’t presiding! It was terrific, though. Best Duke event of the year, by far. Enjoy!

  3. A couple more interesting sessions I just learned about:

    Sunday, 09 January

    810. What Was Literary Criticism?

    1:45–3:00 p.m., Diamond Salon 3, J. W. Marriott

    Program arranged by the Division on Literary Criticism

    Presiding: Simon Christopher During, Univ. of Queensland

    1. “Why Has Criticism Disappeared from the MLA? And Who Cares? And So What?” Lindsay E. Waters, Harvard Univ. Press

    2. “Critical Thinking,” Alex Woloch, Stanford Univ.

    3. “Criticism and System: A Prehistory,” Frances Ferguson, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD

    Sunday, 09 January

    762. So Close and Yet So Far: Close Reading and Sociology

    12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Diamond Salon 6, J. W. Marriott

    A special session

    Presiding: Evan Kindley, Princeton Univ.

    Speakers: James F. English, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Frances Ferguson, Johns Hopkins Univ., MD; Oren Izenberg, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago; Alan Liu, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Heather K. Love, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Mark James McGurl, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

    Despite the many shifts that have taken place in literary studies in recent decades, the discipline has stayed largely committed to the methodological common denominator of close reading. This bedrock commitment to close reading strongly marks literary studies as an academic discipline, sometimes to the point of preventing dialogue with those in adjacent disciplines not similarly devoted to microanalysis. Do we need to substitute distant for close reading, as Franco Moretti suggests, or is there a way to deploy the techniques of close analysis in which most literary scholars have been trained in the service of a broader sociological theory of literature? Might there be a third way?

  4. Also of interest:

    “The Continuing Stakes of Close Reading” continues a conversation begun at the ALSCW conference in Princeton last November; chaired by Susan Wolfson, it features Michael Wood, Garrett Stewart, Phillis Levin and Christopher Ricks. #418: Saturday January 8 at 8:30 in Diamond Salon 3, Marriott.

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