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Fall Conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

IN TRANS: Reading Between and Beyond

Keynote speaker: Prof. Leonard Barkan (Princeton University)

The students of the Department of Comparative Literature and of the Italian Specialization at the CUNY Graduate Center present the annual interdisciplinary conference entitled IN TRANS: Reading Between and Beyond, to be held on November 8 and 9, 2012.

The prefix trans- implies the fundamental patterns that lie at the heart of artistic and other modes of creation and reception. It entails the act of moving simultaneously beyond, between and through the limits of a concept or an idea. From Translation to Transcendence, from Transnationalism to Transsexualism, from Transcription to Transgression, the study of phenomena that occur in between or beyond traditional definitions and principles has captured the attention of the academic world over the past twenty years. Words that begin with the prefix trans- describe cultural and artistic creations that attempt to defy standard notions of identity, authorship, completeness, meaning or interpretation. This conference will explore the study of what lies between and beyond the customary through the use of words that contain the very idea of being “in trans.”

We invite papers from all disciplines focusing on works from any period that explore the multiplicity of the prefix trans- in literature, philosophy, theory, visual arts, film, or social sciences. Some of the questions this conference seeks to answer include, but are not limited to:

  • What role does transience play in the work of art as it goes from the first draft to a possible final product? What does this condition entail?
  • Do the notions that challenge standard definitions and principles become immutable standards themselves?
  • How has literary theory dealt with the issues of deception and sincerity? Can any cultural expression, whether literary, audiovisual, philosophical, or political, be transparent?
  • How has the idea of national, racial or cultural identity been challenged by literature, cinema, or the arts? How does transnationalism affect contemporary cultural expressions?
  • How does transferring from one space to another affect the creation and the reception of the work of art?
  • How have the theological concepts of transubstantiation and transfiguration been developed in literature and the arts? Can literary theory use these concepts to understand the problem of creation and influence?
  • How are the identities of the author and the translator affected by the shift from one language to another? How is the reception of a text influenced by translation?
  • What happens to a work when it is transcoded from one symbolic system to another?
  • How are transsexual modes of self-identification expressed or challenged in a work of art?
  • What is the relation between the transcendent and the sublime? Does the presence of transcendence push the limit of a work of art?
  • How is transmission, in terms of broadcasting, cultural transplantation, or even disease, exemplified in art and literature? How has transmission been approached by literary theory?
  • How does the author transfer his fears and desires to the work of art and the reader? How can the processes of transference and transferal be interpreted?
  • How has the concept of transgression been portrayed and studied by literature, the arts or the social sciences?

Please submit a 300 word abstract for a 15-20 minute paper by September 15, 2012 to<>. Proposals should include the title of the paper, presenter’s name, institutional and departmental affiliation, and any technology requests. We also welcome panel proposals of three to four papers.

Please refer to the website for further information:

This conference is co-sponsored by:

The Writers’ Institute at the City University of New York Graduate Center, a non-MFA program devoted to bringing together the country’s most talented writers and today’s most celebrated editors;

The Sonia Raiziss Group Foundation;

The Doctoral Students’ Council, the sole policymaking body representing students in doctoral and master’s programs at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.