The forty-sixth

Louisville Conference

on Literature and Culture since 1900

February 22-24, 2018


If you would like to propose a paper for one of the following seminars, please contact the organizer(s) directly. Conference registrants may present a seminar paper and present work in *one* other session.
[Registration for seminars is now closed.]


Literatures and/of Waste

Orchid Tierney, University of Pennsylvania

Orchid Tierney, University of Pennsylvania,

Themes of waste and waste management circulate in contemporary literature as demonstrated in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the scatological poetry of A.R. Ammons, the collages of James Schuyler and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and the language middens of Caroline Bergvall’s Drift. Collections like Jennifer Scappettone’s The Republic of Exit 43 also highlight the shared architecture of landfills and human bodies connected by waste, built environments, and literary corpuses. The purpose of the seminar is then twofold. First, this seminar invites participants to explore art, film, and literature through the lens of waste, waste management, and toxic materialism. We are especially interested in papers and projects that interrogate the material afterlives of trace and discard in literature, film, and art. Questions the session might consider are: how does new media poetry address the persistent toxicity of its materiality? What kind of natural history of electronic waste does new media and literature presume? And what forms of repair, recovery, and waste management can literature and film perform? Second, this seminar hopes to curate discussions about the relationships between the environmental humanities and literary studies, and the limits of discipline in spaces and places of human-created ecological disaster. Can environmental humanities articulate aesthetic trajectories that subvert the fantasies of waste? Could zero-waste discourses imagine different forms of harm or repair for literature? Possible topics might include: waste management and conceptual writing, race and toxic wastelands; landfills and the necropastoral; flows and sinks, e-waste and new media. We welcome projects and papers across genres and media in order to cultivate a range of perspectives on toxicity, waste, and waste management.


Undisciplining Interdisciplinarity: Texts, Methods, Institutions

Frank Capogna, Framingham State University, and Alexandra Gold, Boston University

Frank Capogna, Framingham State University, and Alexandra Gold, Boston University,

In his recent essay on new technologies and artist’s books, Kyle Schlesinger leaves open the question: “could it be … that for all of the lip service devoted to interdisciplinary, multimedia, transgenre practices, students and teachers are discouraged from wandering beyond the confines of their own department?” This seminar seeks to generate possible responses to Schlesinger’s provocation, asking participants to consider the position of interdisciplinarity—as textual practice, as critical methodology, and as an institutional byword—in the academy. We welcome papers from scholars working at all levels that approach the status of interdisciplinarity from a variety of perspectives. Questions we might ask include: How did modern and contemporary writers negotiate the relations among the arts, and how can their work inform our understanding of interdisciplinary scholarship? Are there still merits to falling back on the approved critical approaches of traditional disciplines when examining multidisciplinary and collaborative literary works? What space is provided for mixed media or collaborative works in received literary canons? How is interdisciplinarity framed in pedagogical, publishing, and hiring practices in the academy today? Is disciplinary specialization professionally advantageous, particularly as jobs in the humanities become increasingly scarce? By considering questions such as these, we hope to recover the sense of “inbetweeness” or messiness that often accompanies work (both creative and critical) that moves across conventional disciplinary terrains. Together, we hope to restore the significance of interdisciplinary creative works to modern and contemporary literary history, and in doing so to think through the underlying assumptions about interdisciplinarity in academe.


Women and Life Writing in the Era of Modernism

Ella Ophir, University of Saskatchewan and Laurel Harris, Rider University

Ella Ophir, University of Saskatchewan, and Laurel Harris, Rider University,

Diaries, letters, autobiographies, biographies, memoirs: this seminar invites papers examining all forms of life writing created, edited, reviewed, recovered, or interpreted by women in the modernist era. What was the relative status of these different genres of life writing, and in what ways did women leverage them? How did women define and assert the value of such forms? How did they understand the relationship of life writing to literature on one hand, and to history on the other? To what extent did they seek to maintain or to elide such categorizations? This seminar aims to develop recent work that begins remapping modernism through its complex relations with life writing. Max Saunders' Self-Impression, Maria Battista and Emily O. Wittman's Modernism and Autobiography, and John Paul Riquelme's special issue of Modern Fiction Studies have begun to demonstrate how rich an array of modernist texts may be read anew in connection with life writing, and how productive life writing can be as an angle of inquiry into central issues in modernist aesthetics, psychology, and cultural politics. This seminar will explore further how the various forms of life writing were specifically inflected by gender, and how engagements with life writing entailed distinct stakes, liabilities, and possibilities for women writers.

Please send a brief paper proposal (100-150 words) to and Completed papers should be no more than 4 to 5 double-spaced pages, and must be submitted to the organizers by January 20 for circulation to the group.