LOGOS – Literature and the Abominable
13 Feb 2020 - 15 Feb 2020
The English Literary Society, St Stephen’s College
Call for Papers
Theme: Literature and the Abominable
This year for our annual literary festival Logos, we intend to delve into literature which evokes hate, detestation, horror, fear and moral revulsion i.e the Abominable.
An ancient and popular concept, the Abominable has long captivated literary and critical imagination. Through its polymorphic meanderings, it finds a symptomatic spot across spatial and temporal locations of cultural manifestations.
Within the Abominable, Horror retains a significant space in both popular and critical discourses, including discussions of the supernatural, the horrific, the terrifying and inexplicable. It stands for the unassimilable excess, the Kristevan abject, that which unsettles the patriarchal normative and must be kept distinct for the symbolic order to retain its hegemony. Inherently subversive, modes of popular horror often become extra- and even anti-epistemological modes of restituting counter-narratives that resist dominant discursive violence.
Deeply embedded in sociological and political historicities, the Abominable within literary and cultural imagination also draws into discussion accounts of human atrocities, torture, genocides, war, epidemics that subvert dominant systematic erasures of subaltern discourses; often imbued with and sublimated into elements of the supernatural and the surreal, it bears within itself revolutionary cultural-sociological-political potential to counter the normative objectivity of the symbolic order. Spectral spectacles that belong in the darkness of the ever-elusive, counter the violence of the pervasive light of the Law of the Father.
The Bakhtinian Grotesque too, occupies a prime position within the Abominable, its elements of the carnivalesque and the bodily visceral, evoking revulsion, disgust and ridicule, and at the same time, a popular location of laughter. Reversed models where the grotesque visceral take predominance over the abstract and pure, constitute a counter-culture to normative models of immaculate sterility. Thus, the Abominable becomes a site for the othered, abject body to challenge its codification and construct multiplicitous praxes that challenge the solidity of any single cultural-sociological truth.
The Abominable in literature does not remain restricted to the Other, but often concerns itself with the excesses of the symbolic State order itself. We intend to engage in discussions also about the horror, terror, detestation and outrage at totalitarian ideologies and fascist ruling orders, that perpetuate systematic, exploitatory and exterminatory violence against marginalised sections, become the subjects of the Abominable in literary imagination, condemned through alternative tellings and retellings that counter the simplistic, clinical, ideological state narrative.
One must, finally, look at the extensive presence of the Abominable itself, and engage with the pleasure that the bhayanaka and the vibhatsa evoke. The sublimity of the Abominable, coupled with the titillatory catharsis it often strives to provide within popular modes of cultural output, must account for its transcendental and yet grounded presence across geographical and temporal counters.
A few suggestions for areas and aspects that might be engaged with:
– The Abominable as a mode of subversion of dominant socio-cultural-political narrative construction.
– Representation of marginalized communities as abominable (eg: Conrad’s representation of Africa in Heart of Darkness).
– Conversely, the condemnation of oppressive state orders and complicit upper classes perpetuating structural and systematic violence, as abominable and monstrous (as in the Hunger Games series, or the Brahmarakshas of Muktibodh’s poetry).
– The popular and extensive phenomenon of fascination with the Abominable.
– Nature as abominable and sublime.
– Traditional supernatural and horror narratives: the Gothic, the macabre, the supernatural, indigenous folkloric and mythic renditions of the horror, the Bhayanaka and the Vibhatsa in Sanskrit Rasa theory, exploration of what entails abomination in different cultures.
– The Abominable as delineated by taboos and mores within various cultures.
– Said narratives and demarcations as modes of community formation and memory making.
– Contemporary popular horror fiction (for example, works by Stephen King, etc.) and consequently, the abominable within the culture industry.
– Anonymous online storytelling praxis (for example, Creepypastas, Reddit horror narratives, horror video games, urban legends etc.).
– The Abominable in Cinema: construction of the spectacle of the horror, terror, abject, grotesque.
– Surrealism, psychological horror.
– Apocalyptic narratives, medical horror, the monstrous within science-fiction narratives (Epidemics, Extraterrestrials, man-made monstrosities, for example Frankenstein’s monster, zombie epidemics, etc.).
– The Abominable and the body (for example, the monstrous feminine, as in Barbara Creed, the ‘otherisation’ of non-normative bodies).
Under this broad range of interests, we invite papers for our student conference on ‘The Abominable in Literature’. Participants will be allowed 15 minutes to present their papers, and the word limit for the paper is expected to be not more than 2000-2500 words.
Please submit a 300 word abstract of your paper, along with a brief one-page curriculum vitae, to [email protected] by 14th January, 2020. Logos is a three day literary fest and we’re scheduled to host it from 13th to 15th February.
For further details, you may contact any of the following people:
- Nandini Desiraju: 9765181854
- Semanti Debray: 7890561429
- Kannita Biswas: 9873920798