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Voice: Enunciation, Meaning, Representation

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Organizer: John Un

Co-Organizer: Romain Pasquer

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Voice has been a privileged term for many literary explorations. The term implies subjectivity, a source of discourse, and a particularity to enunciation; voice thus designates not only speech, but also writing. For example, one can think of the physical voice and speech, the former as a condition for speech yet also semantically negligible, or voice as a literary category designating a trace of the narrator; it is clear that voice plays a crucial role in understanding meaning.

Voice is a necessary element of signification, yet also refers to qualities unassimilable to formal linguistics – the space of the secret. As soon as voice seems to promise an interpretive guarantee of intention from the source of the enunciation, a, perhaps literal, hiccup interrupts to remind the critic that there persists a side of voice unassimilable to meaning. Voice thus both supports meaning and disrupts it, serves as a medium between subjects as well as a marker of the suspicion of the incommunicable between them.

This seminar proposes an interrogation of voice in all its complexities, at a moment when media saturation, hegemonic state violence, and class domination robs many of a voice. The political metaphors of speech – such as to speak for oneself, or to have a voice – mediates differences in the way that voice, as a medium of speech, mediates subjects. We thus invite submissions from a range of concerns, including literary, cultural, and political interrogations of voice. Possible proposals may touch on narrative and/or poetic voice, testimony and witness, political representation, and psychoanalysis, although we welcome papers from any perspective that is concerned with this seminar’s theme.

We are particularly interested in papers that would explore one of the following questions: 

  • What does it mean to be silenced? How does the political, historical, or epistemological context deprive some of a voice? 

  • Who speaks from the site of trauma? What is the place of literature or/and of new media in the recovery of an ability to speak? 

  • How can the concept of the voice redefine the relationship between language and the body?  

  • What is the impact or the force of a voice?

  • What does it mean for an author to have a voice? What are the consequences in texts or other art forms to give a voice to the author? To whom is it addressed, and from which position?

  • What is the relationship between the concept of identity and the concept of the voice? Is a voice attached to an identity? To a singular individual? To a body?

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