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Writing with the Mind: The Virtual Essence of Global Magical Realism

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Organizer: Eugene Arva

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This comparative literature panel will be founded on Eva Aldea’s Deleuzian treatment of magical realism, according to which “the Deleuzian ontological model of actual and virtual as two sides of One Being is invaluable to negotiating the contradiction or double bind inherent in magical realism…” (Magical Realism and Deleuze, 73) Papers will specifically focus on the creative, world-forging function of certain characters in global trauma narratives, who, in their paradoxically non-conflictual realm of magical realist reality, attempt to close the gap between pre- and post-trauma time-spaces (chronotopes). For example, the extraordinary worlds created by characters such as Rosa, Clara, Blanca, and Alba in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits (1985), the ex-slave Sethe in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), or the nine-year-old Oskar Schell in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), acquire the function of meta-narratives, embedded commentaries on the very essence of literature. Whether they are tangible, artistic creations (embroideries, clay figures, or paintings), or mental constructions of imaginary narratives and objects, they sprout in similar contexts and function as outlets of the characters’ inner tensions and conflicts – all so many ways of acting out or working through trauma.


Characters in magical realist narratives, who sometimes are also first-person narrators, resort to the magic of imagination in molding an often-traumatic reality into an unconventional, or even supernatural one, not in order to escape the actual, but rather to make it less oppressive and more bearable. If anything, the virtual real is meant to complete the actual instead of denying it, however horrific the latter might be. The magical realism–trauma nexus has been gaining prominence in the literary criticism and theory of the past decade, as well as in clinical studies, bespeaking the representational potential and the artistic complexity of this particularly versatile postmodernist writing mode.


Contributors are invited to address the actual and the virtual in trauma narratives following, for the sake of consistency, the fundamental characteristics of magical realist writing as laid out by Wendy B. Faris. Papers will focus primarily on metatextual elements, on stories within stories, on the recurring motifs of artistic creation and imagination, and the “double bind” inherent in magical realism. Critical and theoretical analyses of film narratives, with clear emphasis on the underlying themes of the panel, are also welcome.


Please send a one-page abstract and a short biographical note including institutional affiliation and scholarly background to Eugene Arva at magicreal@aol.com.

 


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