Gods & Idols: (Ex)Changes of the Sacred and Sanctified
During the humanist movement, there was a critical shift from theocentrism to egocentrism. In the 17th Century, Rene Descartes posited that rational argument could prove God’s existence. Human reason was no longer accountable to God; God now needed to stand in the court of human reason. Paving the way for the Enlightenment and the subsequent movements of modernity and postmodernity, this transition witnessed philosophers and poets intellectually abandon the divine. Revealing the relevance of this shift for literary studies, Barthes famously decried the death of the Author-God function. Milton’s muse has been replaced with a question mark.
In 2011, over 76% of Canadians reported an adherence to religious practices; however, this already broad statistic fails to take into account the fact that we all worship at the altar of pop culture. Despite Nietzsche’s proclamation, gods and idols are alive and well in the modern world. Our conference is interested in the areas of cultural, political, and intellectual exchange between the sacred (gods) and the sanctified (idols): the cultivation of the public images of pop stars, politicians, and (anti-) heroes throughout the ages. Do the subjects of media and the entertainment industry replace the sacred or do they function alongside or against it? Does the corporatization of idol figures and role models establish their cultural capital and significance? In other words, has media started to authorize what was previously religious territory? Where does public authority lie and what are its interstices?
Possible topics for consideration
– Spirituality and faith; Secularism
– Cult(ivation) of public/private image
– (Socio-)Political hierarchy and validation
– Mythology and folklore
– The trickster figure and the Picaro
– The (anti-) hero’s quest
– The comic book and/or the graphic novel; the comix movement
– Issues and theorizations of (self-)representation
– Arts, artefacts and canonicity
– Translation and orality
– Blog culture and its narcissism/activism (ie: wikileaks)
– Activism, pacifism and violence
– Ideology, morality, ethics, justice, forgiveness and vengeance
– Exegesis and hermeneutics
– Amanuensis and anonymity
– Simulacra, constructions and emulations
12th Annual English Graduate Colloquium is on March 1, 2014 at Concordia University, Montreal, QC
Please send your 200-word abstract and a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have extended the deadline to January 17, 2014 at noon. If you have a paper that you would like to submit but that doesn’t seem to fit the topics we’ve listed, submit it anyway. (It’s hard to predict how the sessions will compose themselves so it might very well find a home in one of our panels.) We look forward to reading your submissions!