CFP: ‘The Pathological Body From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives’, London, 20 September 2019

Date: Friday 20 September 2019

Location: Institute of Modern Languages (IMLR), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, UK

Closing Date for Abstracts: Sunday 28 April 2019

Call for papers: ‘The Pathological Body From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives’, 20 September 2019.
A one-day symposium at the Institute of Modern Languages (IMLR),
Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, UK.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Steven Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast)

* With support from the Cassal Endowment Fund *

What is sickness, and how is it represented in literature? In his
twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart novel cycle (1871–93), Émile Zola
creates pathological bodies living within Napoleon III’s Second Empire
(1852–70), a period which is represented as being engulfed by
political and social sickness. It is in the last volume, Le Docteur
Pascal, that there is hope embodied within Pascal’s newborn son, the
potential ‘messiah’ of the French nation. In the aftermath of the
disastrous Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Zola’s cycle may be a
literary reaction to the state of a weakened France in exalting the
mythicised image of the mother and child, at once a symbol of purity
and new beginnings. Reflecting on the multi-dimensional aspect of
Zola’s Naturalism, Henri Mitterand writes that these novels are not
merely a form of social and historical documentation, but, instead,
offer a knowledge that is more intuitive, modern and poetic, and which
might be termed an ‘anthropomythic naturalism’ (preface, Émile Zola,
Le Docteur Pascal, p. 48). This symposium aims to explore the nexus of
fears, anxieties and desires that society projects onto the body
within European literature and culture, from the mid-nineteenth
century to the present, tracing the birth and development of modern
medicine. It will examine the widest meaning of sickness and the power
dynamic between the body and society. Is sickness ever ‘just’
sickness, or is there often a covert ideological agenda that drives
and constructs it? How can literature help us understand the
relationship between the body and society? The symposium will take a
transhistorical and transnational approach in order to see whether,
and how, cultural anxieties which appropriate the body change and
differ across European national boundaries during a time when medicine
is establishing and asserting its increasing authority. The symposium
will be an opportunity for colleagues to forge connections and to
compare different approaches within the growing field of Medical
Humanities within the Modern Languages.

Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

Fin de siècle

Gender

Race

Class

Degeneration

Blood

Hysteria

Social order

Myth

Sacred and the religious

Suffering

Contagion

Evil

Medicine

Illness and cure

Life and death

The other

Purification

Nationhood

Utopia

Politics

Deviancy

Contamination

Infection

Ideology

Rebirth

Healing

Morality

Necropolitics

Biopolitics

Power

Ritual

Abject body

Heredity

Identity

Proposals of c. 250 words for 20-minute papers in English and a 100-word biography should be emailed to the conference organiser, Dr Kit Yee Wong, by Sunday 28 April 2019. Notifications to potential speakers will be sent out by Saturday 25 May 2019.


Email: pathbodylit@gmail.com

Twitter: @pathbodylit

Twitter hashtag: #pathbodylit

Website: pathbodylit.wordpress.com




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