Call for Papers: The Comparative Literature Students’ Tribune, Issue 1

Dear Complitters, 

Please find attached (or read below) the call for contributions to The Comparative Literature Students’ Tribune. The Tribune wants to be a space where we can discuss our academic projects, reflect on the concerns of our discipline, build collaboration between graduate students from different universities, and get to know each other. Montreal will host the first edition in January (yes, it’s a great opportunity to experience Montreal’s winter!) and we have already planned the second one to be in Toronto next year. 

We hope to see you there! 

You can contact Elise at elise.couture.grondin@mail.utoronto.ca or Jeanne jeanne.mathieu.lessard@mail.utoronto.ca  if you have any questions.

Élise, Jeanne, 

Servanne (UdeM) and Erwan (UdeM)

 

The Comparative Literature Students’ Tribune – 1st edition

January 16, 2014, University of Montréal

 

Comparatists: Assert yourselves! 

            Studies in comparative literature bring together a large community of scholars, breathing life into a discipline whose applicability continues to proliferate. Graduate students’ research projects are rich and varied, reflecting the breadth of the discipline, although lacking diffusion within the larger comparatist community. Last winter, students met to think about a possible collaboration between the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal and the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Since then, the obvious lack of connections between graduate students from both universities, as well as from other Canadian universities, became a source of motivation for envisioning a space of encounter where we could discuss our projects on the ground of the discipline we share. The “Comparative Literature Students’ Tribune” aims at encouraging discussions between comparatist graduate students of Canadian universities. By asserting the specificity of each of the comparative literature programs in the country, we hope to identify what unites us in this field of study, and forge lasting friendships between young scholars and contribute to the ongoing conversations about the discipline in Canada. For its first edition, in January 2015, the Tribune will take place at the University of Montreal, and will be organized around the question of the spaces for comparative literature.

 Occupy Comparative Literature’s Spaces

            Thanks to its polyglot and multicultural specificity, Canada is a privileged space for comparatist studies. But our discipline, little known by the public at large and imperfectly identified within academia itself, suffers today from a lack of institutional recognition. Therefore, it seems urgent for us to affirm, display and reflect its presence and importance. This year, the Tribune proposes to explore the question of spaces (geographical, linguistic, theoretical, etc.) of comparative literature in Canada – spaces of convergence but also spaces of tension. Among the issues we hope to tackle:

 

    How does Canada constitute itself as a comparatist laboratory?

    In what way(s) can comparative literature take (back) its place within institutional spaces, but also within public spaces?

    How can we consider the very space of comparative literature, at the junction of a plurality of fields – intercultural, interdisciplinary, intermedial, etc.?

     Finally, how are the limits of these theoretical, institutional and geo-political spaces asserted, obliterated or displaced?

 

            We invite graduate students to present their research projects at any stage of their completion through the prism of these questions. Since the Tribune wishes to be a convivial space of exchange, of discussion and of experimentation, we encourage modes of theoretical and critical expression that are original, transmedia or collaborative. Test your research projects, debate your methodological approach, perform your thesis!

We welcome your proposals (150-200 words) until October 24, 2014 at the following email address: tribunelitcomp@gmail.com. Please specify your university affiliation and your year of study. Your presentation of 10 to 15 minutes can be either in French or English, in the medium of your choice.

 

La tribune des étudiant-e-s en littérature comparée – 1ère édition

16 janvier 2015, Université de Montréal

 

Comparatistes : Affirmez-vous !

Les études en littérature comparée rassemblent une large communauté de chercheurs, assurant la vitalité d’une discipline dont les domaines d’application n’ont cessé de se diversifier. À l’image de ce paysage disciplinaire hétérogène, les projets de recherche des étudiant-e-s gradués sont riches et variés, bien que peu diffusés au sein même de la communauté. L’hiver dernier, des étudiantes se sont réunies pour penser une collaboration possible entre le Département de littérature comparée à l’Université de Montréal et le Centre de littérature comparée à l’Université de Toronto. Depuis, le manque flagrant de connexions entre les jeunes chercheurs des deux universités, mais aussi des autres universités canadiennes, est devenu une source de motivation pour imaginer un espace de rencontre qui nous permettrait, à nous étudiants, de partager nos projets de recherche tout en réfléchissant aux enjeux de notre discipline. À cet égard, la «Tribune des étudiant-e-s en littérature comparée » a pour ambition de favoriser davantage les échanges entre les étudiant-e-s comparatistes de deuxième et troisième cycles des universités canadiennes. En affirmant les singularités propres à chacun des programmes comparatistes, nous espérons identifier au mieux ce qui nous unit dans ce champ d’études, et tisser des amitiés durables entre les jeunes chercheurs. Pour sa première édition, en janvier 2015, la Tribune se tiendra à l’Université de Montréal, et s’articulera autour de la question des espaces de la littérature comparée. 

Occuper les espaces de la littérature comparée

Fort de sa spécificité polyglotte et interculturelle, le Canada constitue un espace privilégié pour les études comparatistes. Mais notre discipline, peu connue du grand public et mal identifiée au sein même de l’institution universitaire, souffre aujourd’hui d’un manque de reconnaissance institutionnel, tant et si bien qu’il nous semble urgent d’en affirmer, d’en afficher et d’en réfléchir la présence. Cette année, la Tribune propose ainsi d’explorer la question des espaces (géographiques, linguistiques, théoriques, etc.) de la littérature comparée – espaces de convergences mais aussi de tensions – au Canada. Parmi les problématiques que nous souhaiterions aborder :

    Comment le Canada se constitue-t-il en laboratoire comparatiste ?

    De quelle(s) façon(s) la littérature comparée pourrait-elle (re)prendre place dans des espaces institutionnels, mais aussi dans les espaces publics ?

    Comment considérer l’espace même de la littérature comparée, naturellement inscrite à la jonction de plusieurs domaines – l’interculturel, l’interdisciplinaire, l’intermédial, etc. ?

     Enfin, de quelles façons les limites de ces espaces théoriques, institutionnels et géopolitiques sont-elles affirmées, ignorées ou déplacées?

Nous invitons les étudiant-e-s des cycles supérieurs à venir présenter leurs projets de recherche, quels qu’en soit leur degré d’avancement, à travers le prisme de ces problématiques. Puisque la Tribune se revendique comme un espace convivial d’échange, de discussion et d’expérimentation, nous vous encourageons à privilégier des modes d’expression théoriques et critiques originaux, trans-médiatiques, ou même collaboratifs. Testez vos projets de recherche, débattez de votre approche méthodologique, performez votre thèse !

Nous attendons vos propositions (150-200 mots) pour le 24 octobre 2014 à l’adresse suivante: tribunelitcomp@gmail.com. Veuillez préciser votre université de rattachement et votre cycle d’étude. Votre présentation, de 10 à 15 minutes, pourra être prononcée en anglais ou en français, dans le médium de votre choix.

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Survival/La survie: Call for Papers

The Centre for Comparative Literature’s 25th Annual Conference

on the theme of SURVIVAL

will take place March 12th – March 15th 2015. 

See details below and on the conference website (conference.complit.utoronto.ca/Survival).

Survival

Centre for Comparative Literature

University of Toronto

March 12th – March 15th 2015

Keynote Addresses: Professor Christopher Fynsk (University of Aberdeen) and Professor Elizabeth Rottenberg (DePaul University)

Linda Hutcheon and J. Edward Chamberlin Lecture in Literary Theory: Professor Eric Cazdyn (University of Toronto)

Every catastrophe tests the limits of the human drive for self-preservation and exacts our prolonged negotiation with what has happened and what is to come. Estranged from traditional scaffoldings for her desires and values, the need for survival forces the individual to recognize the insufficiency of her inner resources if she is to live otherwise. Survival under the weight of loss – of faces and words, of relics and homes, of meanings and intimacies – survival in the wake of catastrophe carries the presentiment of a transfigured existence. This promise is a call that brings people together to rebuild the fragile yet necessary connections that constitute a world. We conceive of survival in diverse modes: the future of the work of art after canonicity; the ethics of testimony and witness; the precarity of the environment; the fatal effects of heteronormativity; the inheritance of cultural histories through interpretations, translations and archives; the experiences of globalization, displacement, and conflict.

            The work of art survives the moment of its canonization. Its reification in the canon endows it with fame while the stamp of periodization and genre dissimulates other ways in which it might show itself. The fixed portrait of a work that has been embalmed in the mausoleum of impotent veneration is bound up with forms of critical scrutiny that monumentalize its endurance in life. In the ritual pageant of cultural heritage, the predicament of lives trapped behind glass partitions is the catalyst for critical interventions.

            Modes of criticism have been inherited via a cultural directory that shapes and is shaped by the same means of production that have debased the afterlife of art. To counteract this process of incremental consolidation, a critique that refuses to remain complicit with fantasies of mastery must shatter the ideology of preservation at all costs. To disrupt the deceptive veneer of genealogical continuity in order to rescue the particular from the grip of conservation, critical intervention must pulverize this false image of eternity.

            The myth of nature’s cyclical longevity and infinite duration belies the omnipresent threat of its extinction. The homogenizing forces of modern technology perpetuate the myth of Earth as inexhaustible reservoir. Such factitious discourses of vitalism continue to occur at the same time as the exponential proliferation of signs of environmental destruction. By situating what passes as natural in ‘natural catastrophes’ within the larger frame of global debt structures that perpetuate the mythic cycle of guilt and compensation, an ecology of survival would reclaim the force of analysis and the future of the intellect from market capitalism.

            Strategies of privatization that preserve a complex of institutions conceal the universal subject of debt constructed by them. We must comprehend a logic in which the need to systemically change our society has been replaced with a series of economic transactions that pacify individual afflictions. Our task as thinkers of survival is twofold: to render the contours of subjectivity burdened with debt and to construe our desire in its truth.

            The foreclosure of desires and intimacies reinforces a repertoire of compulsory imitations. In this theatre of desire, parodic mimicry takes its cue from cultural norms that dictate the terms of any possible oppositional stance. Playing empty roles that determine our ways of responding in advance, we lack a sense for recognizing otherness. An ethics of testimony bearing witness to what remains of otherness must reckon with questions of survival. To renew the dead script of our social interactions, a reflection on survival is necessary.

The organizing committee of this conference invites all contributions that respond to the need to rethink what survival means today. Possible topics for presentations include, but are not limited to:

  • Freudian death drive; the undead; the uncanny
  • Survivor’s guilt; mourning; surviving the death of others
  • The survival of the name
  • Suicide and sacrifice
  • Apocalyptic economies
  • Aesthetics of eschatology
  • Erotic foreclosure
  • Afterlife of artworks
  • Survival of/in capitalism
  • Intersection of survival and obsolescence
  • Apparitions; hauntology; revenants
  • Survival of philosophy and the humanities
  • The death of god
  • Class struggle; the nation-state; warfare
  • Surviving gender- and sexuality-based violence
  • Survivalist movements
  • Ecology; ecopoetics; anti-evolutionism
  • Consumer goods that have outlived their use (antiques; collectors)
  • Guilt and debt
  • Gentrification; architectural history; ruins
  • ‘Livability’

We invite joint proposals for panels/roundtables as well as proposals for individual talks. Proposals should be a maximum of 250 words. Individual talks should be approximately 20 minutes in duration and panels/roundtables should not exceed 90 minutes. If you are participating in a roundtable, please be prepared to speak for no more than 10 minutes in order to facilitate discussion. We request that you include a biographical statement of no more than 50 words. We prefer that all participants in panels/roundtables have been confirmed when the proposal is submitted. Our submissions deadline is October 1 2014. All proposals must be submitted via our website (conference.complit.utoronto.ca/Survival). Please contact us at conference.complit@utoronto.ca with any questions or concerns.

La survie

Centre de littérature comparée

Université de Toronto

12 mars – 15 mars 2015

Invités d’honneur: Professeur Christopher Fynsk (Université d’Aberdeen) et Professeure Elizabeth Rottenberg (Université DePaul)

Linda Hutcheon and J. Edward Chamberlin Lecture in Literary Theory: Professeur Eric Cazdyn (Université de Toronto)

Chaque catastrophe teste les limites de l’instinct de conservation et exige notre négociation prolongée avec ce qui s’est déroulé et ce qui est à venir. En la privant des structures traditionnelles pour vivre ses désirs et ses valeurs, le besoin de survie force la personne à reconnaître l’insuffisance de ses ressources internes si elle souhaite vivre autrement. La survie sous le poids de la perte – perte des visages et des mots, des reliques et des ports d’attache, des sens et des intimités – la survie à la suite de la catastrophe porte avec elle le pressentiment d’une existence transfigurée. Cette promesse est un appel qui unit les gens entre eux pour reconstruire les fragiles mais nécessaires liens qui font le monde. Nous concevons la survie de diverses façons : la précarité de l’environnement; les effets néfastes de l’hétéronormativité; la transmission d’histoires culturelles par les interprétations, les traductions et les archives; les expériences de mondialisation, de déplacement et de conflit.

L’œuvre d’art survit à sa canonisation. Sa réification au sein du canon lui confère la gloire, alors que le sceau de la périodisation et du genre dissimule d’autres façons dont elle pourrait se montrer. Le portrait figé d’une œuvre qui a été embaumée dans le mausolée de la vénération impotente est intrinsèquement lié à des modes d’examen critique qui monumentalisent sa pérennité. Dans le cortège rituel du patrimoine culturel, le malheur d’existences enfermées derrière des cloisons de verre est le catalyseur de l’intervention critique.

Des modes critiques ont été transmis par une grille culturelle qui construit, et est construite par, les mêmes modes de production qui ont dégradé la postérité de l’art. Pour contrecarrer ce processus de consolidation progressive, une critique qui refuse d’être complice des phantasmes de domination doit faire éclater l’idéologie de la préservation à tout prix. Pour perturber le vernis trompeur de la continuité généalogique, afin de libérer le particulier de l’étau de la conservation, l’intervention critique doit pulvériser cette fausse image d’éternité.

Le mythe de la longévité cyclique et de la perpétuité de la nature contredit la menace omniprésente de son extinction. Les forces homogénéisantes de la technologie moderne perpétuent le mythe de la Terre comme réserve inépuisable. Ces discours vitalistes trompeurs côtoient la prolifération exponentielle de signes de destruction environnementale. En situant ce qui passe pour naturel dans les « catastrophes naturelles » au sein d’un cadre plus large de structures de dettes qui perpétuent le cycle mythique de culpabilité et de compensation, une écologie de la survie récupèrerait la force de l’analyse et le futur de l’intellect accaparés par le capitalisme de marché.

Les stratégies de privatisation qui préservent un complexe d’institutions cachent l’être assujetti à la dette universelle qu’ils ont construit. Nous devons comprendre la logique au sein de laquelle le désir de changement systémique de notre société a été remplacé par une série de transactions économiques qui pacifient le malheur individuel. Notre tâche comme penseurs de la survie est double : rendre visible les contours de la subjectivité accablée par la dette, et interpréter notre désir dans sa vérité.

La saisie des désirs et des intimités renforce le répertoire d’imitations compulsives. Dans ce théâtre de désirs, l’imitation parodique suit l’exemple des normes culturelles qui dictent les termes de toute attitude d’opposition. En jouant des rôles vides qui déterminent à l’avance notre façon de répondre, il nous devient impossible de reconnaître l’altérité. Une éthique du témoignage attentive à ce qui reste de l’altérité doit prendre en compte un questionnement sur la survie. Pour renouveler le scénario mort de nos interactions sociales, une réflexion sur la survie est nécessaire.

Le comité d’organisation du colloque invite les contributions qui répondent au besoin de repenser ce que la « survie » signifie aujourd’hui. Les sujets possibles de présentations peuvent inclure, mais ne sont pas limités à : 

  • La pulsion de mort freudienne; les morts-vivants; l’inquiétante étrangeté
  • La culpabilité du survivant; le deuil; survivre à la mort des autres
  • La survie du nom
  • Le suicide et le sacrifice
  • Les économies apocalyptiques
  • Les esthétiques de l’eschatologie
  • La survie des oeuvres d’art
  • La survie du capitalisme / La survie dans le capitalisme
  • Le recoupement de la survie et de l’obsolescence
  • Les apparitions; l’hantologie; les revenants
  • La survie de la pensée critique et des sciences humaines
  • La mort de dieu
  • La lutte des classes; l’État-nation; les conflits armés
  • Survivre à la violence liée au genre et à la sexualité
  • Les mouvements survivalistes
  • L’écologie; l’« écopoésie »; le créationnisme
  • Les biens de consommation qui ont survécu à leur utilité première (antiquités; collectionneurs)
  • La culpabilité et la dette
  • L’embourgeoisement; l’histoire architecturale; les ruines
  • L’habitabilité

Nous invitons les propositions, d’un maximum de 250 mots, pour des ateliers ou tables rondes, ainsi que pour des présentations individuelles. Les présentations individuelles seront d’environ 20 minutes, et les ateliers ne devraient pas dépasser 90 minutes. Si vous participez à une table ronde, veuillez être préparé-e-s à ne pas parler plus de 10 minutes afin de favoriser les échanges. Nous vous prions d’inclure une biographie d’un maximum de 50 mots avec votre proposition. Nous préférons que tous les participant-e-s des ateliers et tables rondes aient été confirmé-e-s lors de la soumission des propositions. La date de tombée est le 1er octobre 2014. Toutes les propositions doivent être soumises sur notre site (conference.complit.utoronto.ca/Survival). N’hésitez pas à nous contacter à conference.complit@utoronto.ca pour toute question.

Congress Presentations by Complitters past & present

May 24
Jonathan Allan:
May 24, 2014: 9am-10.30am
“Queering the Prairies, or Against Metronormativity”
International Centre 119

May 25
Jonathan Allan:
May 25, 2014: 9am-10.15am
“Masculinity as Cruel Optimism”
Taro 307

Jonathan Allan:
May 25, 2014: 1.30-3.00
“Why Now? Queer Theory and Comparative Literature
MC-D 309

May 26
Myra Bloom:
ACCUTE on Monday, May 26, 10:30AM-12:00PM
East Academic 103.

Jeanne Mathieu-Lessard:
CSIS: May 26, 4:00PM-5:30pm
Thistle 255

Yi Chen:
CCLA: May 26 1:30PM-3:00PM
MACKENZIE CHOWN D BLOCK‐300

May 27
Antonio Viselli:
APFUCC: May 27, 9:00AM-10:30 AM
EARP 400

Martin Zeilinger (University of Toronto/OCAD):
FSAC, May 27 10:00AM-11:45AM
“Time as Vital Currency and Cinematic Structuring Device in Andrew Niccol’s Dystopia In Time”
Plaza 408

Joe Culpepper:
CATR: May 27, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Roundtable. Circus research in the ROC: A roundtable and demonstration of practice
TH (Thistle) 141

Martin Zeilinger:
CPSA: May 27, 3.15-4.45pm
“Copyright and Moral Economies of Digital Practice”,
Taro Hall 260

Jonathan Allan, Lauren Beard, Jeanne Mathieu-Lessard
CCLA: May 27, 2014: 4.30-6.00
CCLA Roundtable: Comparative Literature in Canada
Thistle 307

May 29
Sarah O’Brien (Brock University/University of Toronto): 
FSAC: May 29, 3:15PM-4:45PM
“Can the First-Person Be Posthuman?”
Plaza 411

May 30
Jonathan Allan:
SSA: May 30, 2014: 3.00-4.30
“Is the Condom Paranoid?”
International Centre 114

Fin-de-siècle at the End of Term, or How to spice up your finals by channelling the 1900s.

belle1

 

The Centre for Comparative Literature is hosting an end-of-term party this coming Friday. This year, we are paying homage to the 1900s (the intelligent person’s Roaring Twenties: comparably ostentatious, yet not as overdone). Before you shrink away from too much commitment: have no fear. There is no need for accurate period attire (although an occasional fascinator will certainly be welcome). Here’s five ways to partake in the Gay Nineties vibe without much effort:

1. Think of a poem by some poète maudit you love or had loved, and email it to Catherine or Irina, so it can be shared with and appreciated by your peers.

2. Dwell on Proust. Talk to someone who is taking Rebecca Comay’s Proust course. If you yourself are in Rebecca Comay’s class, you’re thinking about Proust all the time anyway.

3. Exercise total abandon in the writing of essays. As Fan, our incoming MA student, once suggested: write essays about things that excite you, bother you and will not let you go.

4. Instead of taking TTC, stroll to the University. If it’s too far, stroll anywhere, anytime. You may be super busy, but that’s no reason to not enjoy being a human being in this city.

5. Get yourself to the Centre at 4:30 on Friday and bask in the ready-made Belle Epoque atmosphere (created on a budget but with much enthusiasm).

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5 Great, Cheap Places to Eat

phd090909sWhere does a poor grad student go when he or she just can’t face the hot dog stand and the food trucks outside of Robarts?  Well, we have some suggestions for you! 

Banh Mi Boys, at 392 Queen St. West (Queen and Spadina) and 399 Yonge Street (Yonge and Gerrard), has fantastic French- and Vietnamese-influenced sandwiches for as little as $3.49.  The bread is fresh and crispy, and the unique combination of flavours is delightful.  One sandwich will give you energy for a whole afternoon of papers or, if you’re not facing quite as much heavy work, eat half and share or keep the other half.  It’s definitely enough to split.  There are also bao sandwiches, which are smaller and made with steamed bread, if you’re looking for something lighter.  For those who don’t want the bread, BMB also has entree salads for under $10.  The bright and fun decor is bound to inspire writing, and when you’re snowed under with marking, you can call for delivery.

http://www.banhmiboys.com/index.htm

Pizza Pide is a little farther away, at Gerrard and Pape (949 Gerrard Street East), but is worth the travel time.  The highest price on their menu is $9.99, and the pides are freshly baked and big enough for two people.  You may not want to share, though.  The left-overs taste great when popped into a toaster oven the next day.  With a variety of topping combinations, any palate will be pleased.  The combination pide, in which every slice is different, will make the most insatiably curious customer happy.  All are served with a large helping of onion, tomato, pickled peppers, parsley, and lemon.  You may also want to try their Sour Cherry juice!

http://www.pizzapide.ca/index.html

Drop by El Gordo Latin American Food Court in Kensington Market (214 Augusta Ave.) for a variety of Latin American foods, all affordable.  For $10, choose three giant empanadas from a wide selection, served warm or cold.  Mexican food enthusiasts can enjoy $5 tacos, $9 ceviche, and $2 aguas frescas, while the Jamaican pasta-and-jerk counter usually serves a lunch special for under $5.  The court also houses an arepa counter and a pupusa counter.  If you’re having trouble deciding between all these great options, or you have a sweet tooth to satisfy, enjoy the chocolate and churros, freshly made.  The only drawbacks to the Court are its small space, which means limited seating, and its vulnerability to frozen pipes in the winter, which means no chocolate or other hot drinks when it’s really cold.

https://www.facebook.com/elgordoincubator

Schnitzel Queen at 237 Queen St. East (Queen and Sherbourne) is, I’m told, a schnitzel-lover’s delicious dream.  Schnitzel sandwiches and dinners are all under $10 and are served in a variety of combinations.  The crispy schnitzels can be topped with the more traditional sauerkraut, potato salad, and roasted onion, or, for the more adventurous, sweet and sour chilli sauce.  The green storefront stands out from the brick building around it, so it’s not too hard to find, and the interior has a homey atmosphere that will make Robarts and the seminar room seem far, far away.

http://schnitzelqueen.blogspot.ca

Lastly, Nazareth Bar at Ossington and Bloor (969 Bloor Street West) is known as one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in Toronto.  The huge servings will satisfy two people for under $12 and are worth the wait at this small, family-run business.  The assortment of different dishes, all served on injera, are fun to try, both with and without meat, and, although I’ve not tried them, I’ve heard the tibs are delicious.  The negatives are that it’s cash-only, there are long line-ups, and the service is quite poor.  The earlier you come, the better, and don’t plan for a quick dash in-and-out between reading articles.  This is more of a just-finished-something-and-want-to-relax place.

http://www.yelp.ca/biz/nazareth-restaurant-toronto

Please add more great, cheap places to eat in the comments section!

Our Top Five Books Read in 2013, Part I

Real and imaginary lists are an inevitable part of our vocation as literary and culture scholars (just think of the queen of all lists: “books to be read”). Usually they just hover around at the back of our heads reminding us that our future as readers is constantly held hostage by our intellectual guilt and ambition. At the very least, they create endless possibilities for procrastination. After all, is there a better way to waste time in front of computer than to read lists and rankings of all sorts (or am I just shamefully admitting to my own private weakness)? Anyways, to reclaim (one of the favourite words of contemporary theory) lists for a good cause the editors of our blog have decided to turn it into a means of communication and community-building. In other words, why not use them to share some of the most interesting readings we stumbled upon last year with our fellow complitters (and the world at large)? A few weeks ago we invited you to send us your top 5 readings from 2013 and now we present you the first round of your personal rankings. As the recently-coined Slovenian saying goes, enjoy!

IRINA’S TOP FIVE

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T
he Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
After a nuclear catastrophe, Russia relapses into a nightmarish folksy world, where poor people hunt mutant mice and rich people ride troikas pulled by humans instead of horses. Ignorance and brutal carreerism triumph! Or do they?

Angelique, Marquise des Anges by Anne and Serge Golon
This historical romance set in 16th century France was a significant cultural force in my Eastern European childhood. Having rediscovered Angelique’s ridiculous and awesome adventures this past summer, I realized this book is a rich repository of practical wisdom and girl power inspiration.

Blue Lard by Vladimir Sorokin
When it comes to Russian literary sensations, I have been a late adopter. This year has been a year of Sorokin, the scandalous postmodernist whose famous novel sent Russian conservative activists into a fit. Revolting, powerful and beautifully constructed, Blue Lard ridicules the Russian canon, leaving no stone unturned. And yes, there’s a love scene between Khruschev and Stalin.

The Famished Road by Ben Okri
An absolutely fantastic novel about a Nigerian boy trying to make sense of the violent and volatile world around him, populated by ghosts, politicians, loving and malevolent villagers and a whole array of real or half-real characters. I’d say it’s magical realism if Ben Okri wasn’t resentful of the label. I woke up from this novel totally stunned and changed.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
A bestseller that I would not have read had I not been travelling in India at the time, desperately trying to understand what the hell was going on. Adiga explained India and humanity in general, in as much as India is humanity. I love to have human nature explained to me, so I loved it. It is also quite fun to read.

JOHN PAUL’S TOP FIVE
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I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro
This debut collection of stories–mostly taking place on the border of Tennesee and Georgia–truly captures the rawness and realness of American culture—where and when experiences of Christianity, faith, adultery and sex are no longer distinguishable. In reading Quatro, I find narratives of what I have been theorizing in my own writing as “pornographic faith.”

Tenth of December by George Saunders
Who hasn’t read Saunders’ latest collection of stories?! Like Quatro, he impeccably takes the beat of beaten-down and humiliated Americans. In most of these stories, the setting is central New York State—its own northern Appalachia. Having grown up in Utica, I know. So does Saunders; who teaches at Syracuse and who writes so tenderly about the absurd yet indefatigible dignity of life “upstate.”

White Girls by Hilton Als
With beautifully and variously styled essays on Truman Capote, Michael Jackson, Eminem, Richard Pryor and Malcom X, Als completely gets us to detach racial and gender signifiers from their typical identities. Who’s a white girl? Who desires, idolizes, mimics, betrays and befriends white girls? See the list above.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Given to me as a gift this past Christmas, I finally got to read this celebrated novel. I most appreciated the simplicity of the story’s telling, and the remarkable ways in which trans-gender identity and the villages and forests of Labrador are made to resonate, in a mutual foregrounding of the other.

The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between by Stacey D’Erasmo
Part of a series of short books on the art, craft and technique of writing, D’Erasmo writes beautifully, poetically and with tremendous theoretical insight about the distance that structures any sense intimacy and the spaces of shared encounter. Having just completed my own monograph on the space of ethical and aesthetic separation that is “the decision between us,” reading this book felt like it own rendezvous with intimacy in writing.

 

KEEGAN’S TOP FIVE
A_Burnt_Child_by_Dagerman_Stig_Mier.jpg_350x350the-octopus-book  books  Moby-***-or-the-Whale6a00d83451bcff69e201287563de8d970c-300wi

Burnt Child  by Stig Dagerman
A young man’s mother dies, his dad gets a new girl, young man seduces her.  I can’t wait until Ingmar Bergman comes out with a film adaptation of this lovely disfigured oedipal tale.

The Octopus by Frank Norris
The villain of the novel gets swallowed up by the secret hero–a mountain of wheat–in one of the best revenge scenes ever conceived out on the West Coast.

Transformations  by Anne Sexton
Poetry always makes a whole lot more sense to me when there are animals peeking out from between the lines.

Moby *** by Herman Melville
I always read this book before stepping onto a whaling ship bound for all seven of the seas.

Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
This book taught me that the English are much better than we are at adding joy and color to violent domestic disputes.

Vote on the blog!

Please vote below on the top 5 things you’d like see us include on the complit blog in the future. Feel free to suggest other items that we may not have thought of!
–Rachel, Lukasz, Paula, Irina, & Veronica

How to survive conferences with JOY

As many of you know, conferences can be hugely exciting and enjoyable experiences. They are a wonderful opportunity to meet new colleagues, to network, to share your work and ideas with others. At the same time, they can be absolutely exhausting! So here are a few tips for surviving this year’s conference JOY/LA JOIE.

  1. Plan ahead: have a look at the program in advance. You won’t be able to see everything,  so pick the panels that you are most interested in. At the same time, make sure to give yourself a break here and there throughout the day, to get a breath of fresh air, to sit quietly, or simply to chat to old and new friends.
  2. Plan ahead, part 2: if you need to print your talk or any handouts, make sure to do it the day before! The conference committee has listed some local copy shops at the bottom of the Travel Information page.
  3. Plan ahead, part 3: Make sure you’ve checked the most recent version of the program, just in case your presentation time has changed! This is the building you’re looking for, Victoria College (commonly referred to as Vic). Alumni Hall is on the main floor, and registration will be in the main foyer. The Victoria Chapel is on the second floor. (Washrooms are in the basement).  victoria_winter
  4. Fuel yourself: make sure to keep yourself fuelled up! Whether that means caffeine (there will be coffee and tea available throughout the conference), or your favourite energy bar, or an apple, keep something handy. (Light lunches will also be available in the Vic foyer.)
  5. Hydrate: Bring a water bottle, and keep it filled. There are a few water fountains hidden in corners of Victoria College, and there will be pitchers of water at the refreshment tables.
  6. Prepare to Network: bring business cards if you have them, and regardless, be ready to engage with your colleagues.
  7. Emergency supplies: your conference experience can be easily ruined by little things (a painful pair of shoes, a headache, a missing adapter). Pack your bag/briefcase the night before your presentation with the essentials:
      – an extra copy of your paper (hard copy and/or on a flash drive and/or email it to yourself)
      – power adapter/video adapter for your laptop (if you’re going to be using it)
      – a comfortable pair of shoes (especially if you’re wearing new dress shoes!)
      – headache pills/allergy pills, chapstick, makeup
  8. Layers: this Toronto winter has been a cold one outside, but inside tends to be pleasantly warm. Make sure to wear layers to keep you comfortable.
  9. Have fun and enJOY yourself!

Have any other ideas on how to get the most out of conferences? Post them in the comments below!

JOY conference – The Centre’s presenters

Dear All,

The Centre’s conference is coming up !
Come encourage your professors and colleagues from Thursday February 27 to March 1st at Victoria College:
 
Lauren Beard, presenting: “The Joy of Text: Towards a Postmodern Praxis of Reading in Calvino’s Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore
Natasha Hay, presenting “Child’s Play: Perception and Creation in Benjamin and Nietzsche”
Jeannine Pitas, presenting: “Joyful teaching, joyful learning: On love, laughter and pedagogy in Plato’s Phaedrus”
Irina Sadovina, presenting: “Joy and Trauma in Siberia: Vladimir Sorokin’s Bro and Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales
Élise Couture-Grondin; Jessica CopleyKatie FryKristopher Poulin-Thibault; Kate Sedon: moderating panels
Toshi Tomori: Introducing Professor Dina Al-Kassim’s keynote address
Jeanne Mathieu-Lessard: Introducing Professor Veronika Ambros’s keynote address
Professor Eva-Lynn Jagoe: Giving the opening remarks and introducing Professor Vivasvan Soni’s keynote address
-and last but not least: Veronika Ambros, giving the Linda Hutcheon and J. Edward Chamberlin Lecture!
 
In joy,
 
 JOY-Logo
Elise, Emily, Jeanne, Jose, Katie, and Toshi