"From Crisis to Criticism: Tensions, Evolutions, Revolutions in 19th and 20th century Europe"
University of Cergy-Pontoise
April 10-11, 2014
This international and interdisciplinary symposium to be held at the University of Cergy-Pontoise on April 10 and 11, 2014 will aim at exploring and reconsidering the different manifestations of episodes of crisis in the European history of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is expected that exploring the concept of crisis in its manifestations, consequences and legacy in the 19th and 20th centuries will lead to a better understanding of the ongoing crises in the early 21st century.
It will consider and revisit the reactions and changes that such moments of crisis have left in their wake in all aspects of European life, political, social and cultural.
- As scientific, industrial and political changes awakened a new consciousness and aroused new aspirations for greater liberty, radical movements emerged challenging such theories as liberalism and utilitarianism. These challenging forces could be considered either as a radical questioning of the political, social and cultural heritage or as a form of compromise to avoid commitment and action.
This conference also purports to address the complex link between crisis, criticism and visual representation(s).
- At a time when the artistic field achieves a larger degree of autonomy, progressively ending what Bourdieu termed its structural subordination to political power, the canvas (later, the screen) functions as the place, reflection and expression of multi-faceted crises. Fuelled by the context in which it exists, art allows its producers and receivers to distance themselves from some of the most acute contemporary conflicts, social or political. As the instrument of major aesthetic breaks, it may also generate tensions, evolutions and even revolutions of its own.
- Considered as the symptom of a medical disorder, a crisis throws light on ways in which science had, in the 19th century context, found its way into major debates that continued beyond that century and found modes of expression well into the twentieth century. Some groups held a pseudo-scientific discourse in which new scientific theories were either exploited or corrupted and diverted from their original context. The impact of scientific discoveries in the political and religious fields could be investigated.
The conference will equally aim at exploring the notion of crisis in the field of literature.
- In what way do the literary representations of crises bear on the (r) evolution of the codes prevailing at a certain period of time? The cyclical aspects of literature, such as the recycling process at work in 20th century pastiche, could be a case in point. It could similarly prove interesting to study how crisis in literature promotes new imaginary worlds, specific representations of the world, or new literary genres created to articulate brand new worlds opening up.
- Should the literature of crisis be regarded as a literary subgenre in its own right? The question of crisis as spurring on creation should be worth investigating as well. What are the links between a writer’s inner crisis triggered by personal anxieties and crisis at a social, economic, political, scientific, or religious level? At which point does a writer’s literary production stop being symptomatic and merge into a country’s dominant culture? Through which process could it then build up into a symbolic counter-power, possibly resulting into a new collective identity?
- When taken in a meaning closer to its Greek etymology, the term “crisis” may be synonymous with “opinion”, and “criticism”. We may then examine openly metadiscursive texts written by authors turning into literary critics: reviews, prefaces, letters, essays, or any other critical text. We also invite the participants to study the idea of criticism in a broader sense comprising the question of the committed writer in times of political and social crisis.
Heritage is generally considered as the product of social, cultural and political consensus.
- As such, it would tend to establish order, and to smooth or soothe tensions, evolutions and revolutions. However, on the one hand it can imply tangible and intangible works (artworks, monuments, urban landscapes, or events) associated with moments of crisis which memory communities, States or international organizations wish to preserve and pass on. On the other hand, aesthetic and ideological choices at play in the very process of heritagization can create conflicts and controversy as they imply a critical rewriting of the past and reflect, not only the concerns of a given period, but its aspirations for the future. Furthermore, in relation to questions of identity building, the development of heritage awareness was matched with the setting up of cultural institutions whose actors, whether they be audiences or heritage professionals (curators, mediators), have been induced to produce order through canon and common values, or alternatively debatable distinctions. This conference will examine heritage narratives based on crises, be they considered minor or major ones.
This two-day international symposium will gather academics whose research field is in the political, social and intellectual history of European nations in the past two centuries. Researchers in art and patrimonial history of the period are equally welcome to propose a contribution.
Proposals for papers (20 to 30 lines) including a brief biographical notice and references to 3 publications will be received until October 1st 2013 by the following members of the scientific committee:
- Political studies: Stéphane Guy, firstname.lastname@example.org Catherine Marshall, Catherine.email@example.com
- Visual arts : Françoise Baillet, firstname.lastname@example.org Rosemary Mitchell,R.Mitchell@leedstrinity.ac.uk
- Literature : François Ropert, email@example.com Françoise Martin-McInnes,firstname.lastname@example.org Peggy Blin-Cordon, email@example.com
- Heritage and Society: Cécile Doustaly, firstname.lastname@example.org Florence Ferran, email@example.com