Engaged/Engaging Texts: The Power of the Written and Spoken Word
"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity." Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)
In his epic poem the "Stanzas for the Joust", the Italian poet Poliziano describes at length the palaces of Venus, including the ekphrasis of two very beautiful and imaginary paintings depicting the goddess€™s birth and her presence in a highly symbolic nature scene. The master Renaissance painter, Botticelli, was later commissioned to realize these images for the Medici family. These two paintings, The Birth of Venus€ and La Primavera,€ have since become emblematic of the Italian Renaissance. Just as the poetry of Poliziano was brought into a tangible reality, so too in his Cahier d€™un retour au pays natal, AimÃ© CÃ©saire uses revolutionary language to inspire change and alter thinking fixed in a colonial past. As these examples illustrate, written and spoken words hold powerful sway over their readers and listeners, whether inspiring creativity, prompting political change or providing diversion and instruction. From oral traditions to Renaissance frescoes, from political theater to manifestos, from written texts to their filmic representations, words when formed and strung together act on those who receive them, shaping thoughts, philosophies, and cultures. This symposium will also examine the relationship between the reader and the text (the listener and the music, the viewer and the play). This relationship is never static or unidirectional: new eyes and new ears shape the texts they encounter and in turn are profoundly changed.
We welcome 250-350 word abstracts for papers that examine the ways in which texts and readers engage one another. How do we make literature relevant? How do texts engage us? How do we engage with texts? Possible topics (among others) could include:
- Reinterpretations of texts, their adaptations, and uses in other unrelated€ fields.
- The impact and relevance (political, social, personal) of texts (words) on readers / listeners / viewers.
- Engaging students with literature in the classroom.
Symposium presentations should be in English, twenty minutes in length, and may address a topic from any period or discipline. Please submit your abstract by e-mail attachment no later than Friday, February 1, 2008 to Mary Claypool and Loren Eadie, symposium co-chairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.