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International Colloquium on "What is the Contemporary?"



Monday, May 21, 2012 - 9:00am - 5:00pm


Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall



International Colloquium on "What is the Contemporary?"

Cultural Synchronization and Disjuncture, and Tangible Thoughts in Luso-Brazilian Literature proudly present:

What is the Contemporary?

An international colloquium, in collaboration with Université Paris 8

May 21-22, 2012

Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall

As a critical category and an object of study, “the contemporary” is often taken for granted or entirely omitted from academic discussion. We often assume it is the purview of journalistic criticism, and wait for consensus to arise before considering it a viable subject of analysis. Higher learning favors the study of the past over the present, which adds institutional blindness to the inherent difficulty of considering a changing object “in real time.” This is all the more pervasive in the case of Latin American culture, which does not circulate in mainstream American humanistic discourse, and is thus relegated to an always-already past condition in our academic milieu. The premise of the colloquium is simple and enormously thought-provoking: we seek answers –from world-class Latin American, U.S. and European intellectuals, writers, and scholars– to the question of contemporaneity. Participants address the concept itself, canon formation, and methodological issues.

Details attached.  For more information, contact graduate coordinator Fatoumata Seck

Sponsored by the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, the Department of French and Italian, the Europe Center, Modern Thought and Literature, the Humanities Center, the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages Research Unit; and the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University



Monday, May 21

9:00 Breakfast

9:30 Welcome by Gabriella Safran, Chair of the DLCL

9:45 Opening remarks by Héctor Hoyos and Marília Librandi-Rocha, organizers (ILAC).

10:00-12:00 Panel 1: Time and Concept

Lionel Ruffel, Paris 8: “What is the Contemporary? Brief Archeology of a Question”

Idelber Avelar, Tulane U: “Contemporary Intersections of Ecology and Culture”

Discussant: Ramón Saldívar, English/Comparative Literature


2:00-4:00 Panel 2: Emerging Canonicities I

Paola Cortés Rocca, San Francisco State U: “Debates contemporáneos sobre estética y política en la Argentina del nuevo milenio”

Diego Vecchio, Paris 8: “Luis Gusmán y el inconsciente bruto”

Valeria de los Ríos, U. Santiago de Chile: “Mapa cognitivo, memoria y medialidad: contemporaneidad en Alejandro Zambra y Pola Oloixarac”

Discussant: Juan Poblete, U. California at Santa Cruz


4:30- 6:00 Public reading by Alejandro Zambra, Diego Vecchio, and Guadalupe Nettel (in Spanish), in conversation with Jorge Ruffinelli, ILAC

6:00-7:00 Reception


Tuesday, May 22

9:30 Breakfast

9:45 Recap by Tom Winterbottom and Victoria Saramago

10:00-12:00 Panel 3: Emerging Canonicities II

Julio Premat, Paris 8: “A contratiempo: notas sobre cultura y época”

Alejandro Zambra, U. Diego Portales: “Computadores”

Discussant: Ximena Briceño, ILAC


1:30-3:00 Panel 4: Methodologies of the Transient

David William Foster, Arizona State U: “The Contemporary as Immersion: on Being an Argentinist”

Odile Cisneros, U. Alberta: “Contemporary Experimental Poetry in Canada and Brazil: A Contrastive View”

Earl Fitz, Vanderbilt U: “Interdisciplinarity and the Emergence of a New Scholarly Field: Departments of Spanish and Portuguese, French, English, and Comparative Literature, and the Rise of Inter-American Literature":

Discussant: Estelle Tarica, U. California at Berkeley.


3:30-5:00 Roundtable with all participants, closing remarks by Hoyos and Librandi-Rocha