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ACL(x) Conference Call for Papers: Extra-Disciplinarity

ACL(x) Conference Call for Papers: Extra-Disciplinarity

What if disciplines were organized differently -- or didn't exist at all? Or existed, but none of us "belonged" to one? What if literary scholars were to go about interdisciplinary work the way scientists do, building large teams from distinct disciplines to produce work with many co-authors? How do other disciplines reach their audiences? What disciplines are crucial partners for comparative literature now, or in the future?
The American Comparative Literature Association invites proposals to participate in its experimental conference, ACL(x): Extra-Disciplinarity. The Fall 2016 conference will be held on the campus of Penn State University, University Park, PA, the weekend of September 22-24, 2016, with arrival Thursday afternoon or evening and sessions on Friday and Saturday. Concepts and practices developed in and around ACL(x) are designed to potentially carry forward into the ACLA’s official spring/summer conference, as well as to make their ways into journals, workshops, and individual or collaborative acts of scholarship or conversation. The editors of four journals -- ASAP, CLS, Trafika Europe, and Verge -- will all be present at the conference and in some cases sponsoring panels.
The "extra-" in the conference theme points in multiple and sometimes contradictory directions. "Extra-" is the antonym of "intra-" and thus gestures towards a space outside of any discipline. But in common parlance, "extra" means something supplementary -- in addition to -- and would thus point towards training in or collaboration between scholars in more than one discipline, so the realms of possibility contemplated in the conference rubric are several.
Thanks to the generous support of the ACLA and Penn State University, its Department of Comparative Literature, the School of Languages and Literatures, and the College of Liberal Arts, lodging and most meals for conference presenters will be free. Participants are asked to arrange their own travel.
The organizers invite presentations on the following topics, with submissions of abstracts of 250 words and 1-2 sentence bios due by June 30, 2016 to the panel organizers shown at the end of the descriptions below.
We also invite proposals for an additional panel on any topic related to the conference theme within the context of comparative literature. Please send an[Office1]  abstract of 250 words, indicating proposed participants (if any have been identified at this point) and a 1-2 sentence bio to Thomas Beebee (, Caroline Eckhardt (, and Jonathan Eburne (


Alternative Literacies at the Nexus of African Literary Studies and African Feminisms: A Co-Panel of the ACL(X) and the African Feminist Initiative
Comparative Literature has historically been at the forefront of valuing oral literacies and alternative forms of literacy that have exceeded the scope of  “English” and the conventions of highly disciplined textual study – “exceeded” in terms of re-negotiating both the demand for a written, canonical text and the approaches one might take to texts.  In an allied move, African feminisms affirm epistemologies of embodiment; alternatives to capitalist colonialism; kinds of African, feminist-based, understandings of the continuity and simultaneity of neo-colonialism, democracy and terror; and resilience rather than more simplified resistance. This panel seeks papers that articulate the co-constitutive relation between African feminisms and alternative literacies. Papers could include such topics as the anti-colonialist feminisms of writers as genre-breaking, complex, and various as Mariama Ba, Fatima Mernissi, Yvonne Vera, Ken Bugul, Dambudzo Marechera, Binyavanga Wainaina, and Bessie Head; the flourishing contemporary feminist expression in film, poetry, theatre and performance; the burgeoning of activist African life-writing supported by NGOs; the importance of market literature in feminist self-expression; the range of Muslim feminist self-expression on the continent; African feminist graffiti, graphic narratives, and activism; and African feminist literary theories and interventions in the academy. Abstracts and bios to Rose Jolly (

Approaching the Arts of the Present 
What procedures do the arts of the present have in common? In what ways do these arts talk to one another or provide a fugal voicing of the contemporary? In what ways might comparativism be extended to study of the contemporary arts across mediums and disciplines?  This roundtable discussion will feature pre-circulated essays that focus on specific techniques, procedures, critical methods, formal approaches, and/or aesthetic assumptions in literary, visual, sound, media, or performance art in a global context. The roundtable is sponsored by ASAP/Journal, the scholarly journal of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. Abstracts and bios to Jonathan P. Eburne ( and Amy J. Elias (

Collaborative Pairings
In this panel, we would like to overhear PAIRS of scholars in different disciplines who are in dialogue with each other. How did you get together, work together, what was your joint project, what did you achieve or fail to achieve, where and how did you publish, teach, or otherwise communicate or implement the outcome? Above all, what is the third, "extra" discipline that emerges from your speaking to each other? Your remarks will be addressed to each other, at least on the surface, and the audience will eavesdrop. The symposium is sponsored by Comparative Literature Studies. Abstracts and bios to Thomas Beebee (

Democracy as Cultural Practice
This panels taps into the extra-disciplinary area of democracy as political institution and as a framework for studies of literary and culture. Recent broadly defined “democracy movements” in the non-West, such as the Arab Spring, Sunflower Movement, or Umbrella Movement, bring forth various cultural and political practices that may have exceeded canonical understandings of democracy. This panel invites short papers (no longer than fifteen minutes) that tap into the conjuncture between discourses of democracy and literary and cultural studies. The following questions can be addressed: how to read democracy as cultural practice from the lens of urban studies, everyday life, human rights, biopolitics, digital humanities, globalization, etc., and how studies of cultural practice, with attention to language, history, and form, can enhance and revise canonical understandings of democracy. Abstracts and bios to Shuang Shen (

Globe, Planet, World: Comparison and the Problem of Disciplinary Scale
This panel takes as its starting point the proposition that "globe," "planet," and "world" are extra-disciplinary formations -- large-scale comparative frameworks whose aim to bridge the distance between disciplines as much as continents. (Hence the idea of "disciplinary scale"). Accepting this proposition, the question then becomes: what are the disciplinary languages necessary for talking about "globe," "planet," and "world," respectively? What is the history of each of these terms? What is the relationship between these terms (why is their status relative to each other)? Finally, which--if any--of these terms offers the most promising way forward for Comparative Literature in the 21st century?  Our thinking on this topic refers both to Spivak's argument for "planetarity" (contra the "globe" of "globalization") in the last section of 'Death of a Discipline' (2003) and the continuing appeal of the term "globe" as in Ngugi's notion of "globalectics" (2012). Abstracts and bios to Magali Armillas-Tiseyra ( and Anna Ziajka Stanton (

Probing the Borders of Literariness
What is it that makes a literary text, when, and why? This panel invites contributors to probe the limits of literariness, to question the thresholds of in/exclusion that demarcate the field of literary studies. How do developments such as transculturation, technological innovation, cross-media fertilization, and the ever-widening horizons of world literary space reshape our understanding of the literary? Panelists will examine textual practices that challenge and/or cross accepted borders of literariness, including but by no means limited to, translations as literary texts in their own right, the porous border between fictional and non-fictional texts, the dynamic interplay and/or fusion of visual and verbal texts, and new textual cultures in everyday networked media, among others. Abstracts and bios to Nicolai Volland ( and  Jonathan Abel (