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Conference: 'Corruption'



Friday, April 4, 2008 - 12:00am

Conference: 'Corruption'


APRIL 4-5, 2008

Click HERE for the conference schedule

Corruption — a concept with wide array of moral, social, and political implications — is a recurrent trope in modern literature. Certainly, it is central to many of the most canonical works of 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries: the novels of Flaubert and Dostoevsky; the poems of Baudelaire and Paz; and the plays of Kleist and Beckett (to name only a few examples). In many modernist and postmodernist works corruption becomes a way to challenge and re-imagine the governing forms of literary creation — thereby, in effect, corrupting them. Concomitantly, contemporary critical strategies, through their tendency to draw attention to the constitutive incompleteness of all works of art, have embraced corruption as normatively positive — if not ineluctable — aspect of artistic creation.

We are calling for papers that investigate the vicissitudes of the concept of corruption in modern literature and critical theory. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• The corruption of form
• The corrupt character/anti-hero
• Corruption as an aesthetic category
• Corruption as a moral, political, social, and/or sexual category
• Corruption as an abiding religious category resurfacing in modern texts
• Corruption and the possibility or impossibility of salvation in modernist literature
• The material corruption of literary artifacts (e.g. corruption as a philological category)
• Corruption as a concept in contemporary attempts to imagine a post-ironic aesthetics
• The specificity of corruption as opposed to concepts like devolution and artistic failure
• Representations of corruption in the work of a particular writer or genre (e.g. the marriage plot)
• Possible homologies between theological conceptualizations of corruption (e.g. St. Augustine’s)
and modern approaches to structure and form
• Corruption and the ethics of reading debate (e.g., in reference to the Nussbaum/Booth/Posner debate of the ethical value of reading, or lack thereof)

Presentations should be approximately 20 minutes in length (about 10 double-spaced pages)

Please submit a one page abstract in the body of an email by January 4th, 2008 to:
Chris Donaldson ( & Nir Evron (

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