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Call for Papers: 2016 Modern Languages Association convention

3 years 3 months ago

The International Brecht Society invites proposals for two sessions at the MLA convention in 2016:

Brecht - Surveillance - Visibility
(session of the International Brecht Society at the convention of the Modern Language Association, 7-10 January 2016 in Austin, Texas)

In his essay “What is Epic Theatre?,” Walter Benjamin offers a narrative about a family scene interrupted by the arrival of an uninvited stranger. The stranger is witness to an altercation between a mother and daughter, and Benjamin suggests that he is like the audiences of Brechtian theater: confronted with “a startling situation” that focuses his attention not on “the development of actions” but rather on the “conditions” that they exemplify. While Benjamin’s narrative may not be the most obvious illustration of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt, the notion of an uninvited stranger suddenly appearing in the privacy of one’s home contains an eerie premonition of the socio-political conditions that the advent of advanced surveillance technologies have made reality.  His narrative thus presents an opportunity to consider Brechtian aesthetics in light of the political conditions of the new surveillance society. How valuable are those aesthetics in this charged era of politicized technologies?  Has Brecht's goal of making visible both a real act and the structure that causes it - the double move of Verfremdung - lost its power as a model for performance in a surveillance society?  Send abstracts (250 words) for 20-minute presentations on aspects of new technologies and Brechtian theater by 15 March 2015 to: Marc Silberman ( and James Harding (

Relations / Legacies: Brecht, Benjamin, Adorno
(collaborative session of the International Brecht Society and MLA Division on Philosophical Approaches to Literature at the convention of the Modern Language Association, 7-10 January 2016 in Austin, TX)
The artistic, critical, and philosophical relations among Brecht, Benjamin, and Adorno before and during the exile years were tense but often extraordinarily generative, perhaps even more so after the war.  Papers are sought on topics that might include:
> connections and divergences among Verfremdung effect, constellation / force-field, and / or aura;
> debates over the revolutionary – or exchange-value dominated – character of mechanical reproduction / technical reproducibility in life and art;
> Brechtian “separation of the elements” and / vs. the “unique” (or charged) distance of Benjamin and Adorno;
> aesthetic / artistic autonomy and political engagement / commitment, including the degree to which, in acknowledged or implicit ways, the various stances come to inflect or suffuse each other;
> comparative experiences of exile (and, for Brecht and Adorno, “return”);
> attitudes, connections, or stances to real-existing socialism;
> legacies and posthumous lives of their work, including latter-day Brechtians, Benjaminians, and Adornians.
Send abstracts (250 words) for 20-minute presentations by 15 March 2015 to: Marc Silberman ( and Robert Kaufman (