47th Annual Comparative Literature Conference: "Drawing the Line(s) — Censorship and Cultural Practices"

September 12, 2011

The history of human culture has always been engaged with classifying and upholding the politically and socially acceptable, ethical and moral. On the other hand, it has also been equally engaged with what is deemed forbidden, shocking, inappropriate, tasteless, improper, reprehensible, and even scandalous. Censorship and freedom of expression are not just modern-day issues or debates. To be heard, seen, erased, or silenced in written, spoken, or visual form has vexed humanity since the Ancient and Classical debates on good governance and freedom of speech. In fact, from early Jewish, Christian and Islamic notions of iconography, the destruction of books in Ancient China, Medieval inquisitions, Galileo’s defense of Copernican theory, the Counter Reformation, the Salem Witch trials, McCarthyism to the Culture wars of the 1980s, and today’s concerns about technological communication, surveillance, and scientific advancements, censorship has been at the forefront of cultural practices both globally and throughout time.

“Drawing the Line(s): Censorship and Cultural Practices” is the 47th Annual Comparative Literature Conference, an interdisciplinary gathering of scholars, artists, and practitioners from all walks of the arts and the academy. The conference aims to consider censorship in a broad scale across time periods, disciplines, and languages. It seeks to examine literature, images, visual objects, and mechanisms, the political and social events from diverse cultures, across national boundaries, and within global contexts.

Plenary Speaker: Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College

Stavans is one of today’s preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators. A native from Mexico, his books include The Hispanic Condition (HarperCollins, 1995), On Borrowed Words (Viking, 2001), Spanglish (HarperCollins, 2003), Dictionary Days (Graywolf, 2005), The Disappearance (TriQuarterly, 2006), Love and Language (Yale, 2007), Resurrecting Hebrew (Nextbook, 2008), Mr. Spic Goes to Washington (Soft Skull, 2008), and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave, 2010).

His play The Disappearance, performed by the theater troupe Double Edge, premiered at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and has been shown throughout the world. His story “Morirse está en hebreo” was made into the award-winning movie My Mexican Shivah (2007), produced by John Sayles. Stavans has received numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Jewish Book Award, the Southwest Children Book of the Year Award, an Emmy nomination, the Latino Book Award, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the Rubén Darío Distinction, and the Cátedra Roberto Bolaño. He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans (2001-2006). His work has been translated into a dozen languages.

Stavans will speak in CSULB’s Karl Anatol Center on Friday, March 2nd, 2012.

Special B-Word Public Lecture: “An Evening with Azar Nafisi”

Best-known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which electrified readers with its incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny, Nafisi provides a global context of censorship and insight into a culture, speaking out against authoritarianism and repression. Nafisi appears on the heels of her January 2012 release, That Other World: Nabokov and the Puzzle of Exile.

The B-Word Project Event will take place on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at 8:00 PM in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Conference registrants will receive a $5.00 discount to attend this public lecture. Please visit the conference webpage (provided below) and access the registration form for more information.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Abstracts are due October 31st, 2011. Please visit http://www.csulb.edu/colleges/cla/departments/complit-classics/conference/47CFP.htm for details, including a list of possible questions to be explored.

Conference webpage: http://www.csulb.edu/colleges/cla/departments/complit-classics/conference/

This conference is part of “Banned, Blacklisted & Boycotted: Censorship and the Response to It (The B-Word Project),” a campus-wide initiative that is coordinated by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, Long Beach. The B-Word Project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Website: http://bwordproject.org/

Please direct all inquiries to conference organizers:

Dr. Nhora Serrano, Dept. of Comparative World Literature & Classics;

Dr. Nizan Shaked, Dept. of Art;

or at the official conference email: 47thcomplitconf@gmail.com