Inhaltspezifische Aktionen

Emergent Forms of Life in Contemporary English and American Fiction: Conceptual Frameworks, Cultural Contexts, and Aesthetic Explorations

GCSC Tagung, Mi 23.04.2014- Do 24.04.2014, GSCS building, room 001


23.04.2014 10:00 bis 24.04.2014 18:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)


International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), room 001, Alter Steinbacher Weg 38

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+49 641 / 99-30 040

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Despite far-reaching changes in ways of living and conceptions of human (as well as nonhuman, posthuman or transhuman) life, not much sustained effort has been made in literary and cultural studies to explore the role of literature in articulating or even generating emergent or new forms of life. Taking its key concept and cue from Ludwig Wittgenstein's suggestive observation that the speaking of a language is an integral part of a form of life (cf. Philosophical Investigations § 23), the conference attempts to move beyond the traditions of analytic philosophy and philosophy of language in which the concept of ‘forms of life’ originated and has been intensely discussed for many decades. Its main purpose is thus to gauge the theoretical and heuristic potential of the philosophical, anthropological and sociological notions of forms of life in literary and cultural studies. While Wittgenstein was mainly interested in the role of natural languages, the volume intends to shift the emphasis towards the interface between style, aesthetic forms, and genres, on the one hand, and forms of life, i.e. the totality of social practices and kinds of human relationships that are subject to historical change and cultural variation, on the other. Critical discussions of a wide range of contemporary English and American novels and short stories will strive for critical analysis of the interlinkage between stylistic devices, formal procedures and narrative techniques, on the one hand, and changing forms of life on the other. By reframing, developing, and theorizing the concept of 'forms of life', the conference thus aims to enlarge the conceptual and interpretative repertoire of literary and cultural studies and to furnish the study of narrative fiction as well as of other genres with new descriptive and analytical resources.