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Seventh Annual Graduate Conference in Comparative Literature

Intimacy: Technologies of Feeling and Fantasy

Fri, October 1, 2010 | TBA

The theme of the Seventh Annual Graduate Conference in Comparative Literature at UT Austin springs from a meditation on the intimacy engendered by the porous border and the particularly intimate relationship of Texas with Mexico.  This notion of a division or difference as the condition for intimacy pervades theories of human relation from Freud’s “narcissism,” Lacan's "extimacy," and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “inoperative community” to Derrida’s “hospitality.”

As both the criteria and the effect of interpersonal communication, intimacy has long been overlooked in the study of the humanities.  Recent work in fields like queer studies, affect theory, urban studies, and critical race theory, however, has shown that realms of intimacy are not neutral, entirely private or beyond investigation.  For this reason, our conference is proud to unite groups from different areas and disciplines in order to explore what for some disciplines is a concept, for others a feeling or fantasy.

This conference will provide an opportunity to interrogate the relationship between literature and spaces of intimacy, such as the defining of homes, communities and nations in and through art and other media.  As has been illustrated by the last decade’s explosion of social media technology, the history of media technology is also the history of the evolution of intimacy.  For this reason, we especially welcome analyses of the role of these technologies in the genesis of intimacy, in addition to analyses of the function and representation of intimacy in literature, science, politics and visual art.

Keynote speaker David L. Eng is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and a core faculty member in the Asian American Studies Program.  He is author of The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, forthcoming) and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke, 2001).  He is currently at work on a study of neoliberalism and desire in Chinese cinema and an analysis of political and psychic reparation.  His areas of specialization include American literature, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, queer studies, and visual culture.

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Sponsored by: Program in Comparative Literature

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