Héritages et Constructions dans le Texte et l'Image

HCTI
HÉRITAGES ET CONSTRUCTIONS DANS LE TEXTE ET L'IMAGE

« Signatures du monstre : penser le monstre, pensées du monstre ». Sémiotiques du monstre

 

Call for Papers:
Signatures of the Monster : Thinking the Monster/Monstrous Thoughts

Scientific and literary discourses surrounding the monster and the monstrous are at the heart of science, image, texts and artistic creation in its broadest sense. Marked by shadows, enigmas, and singularity, these forms of discourse trigger all manner of questions, hypotheses, and paradoxical descriptions while also blurring generic barriers. Keeping these elements in mind, modes of representation of the monster and of the monstrous will be the focus of this conference. So as to avoid repeating analyses covered in previous works, this conference will not deal with the historic evolution of monstrous discourse; rather, it will adopt a semiotic approach to the monster and the monstrous.
No matter what manner of monster an author creates, whether s/he defines it as a moral, individual or collective entity, the monstrous subject calls into question its relation to the norm and forces the receptor to face its (and possibly his) alterity. We can say then that the monstrous is in the eye of the beholder – an overdetermined eye caught by difference whether it be hidden or shown, or even put on display, mounted on a pin, in a curio cabinet or in a circus tent. In the wake of this tradition, the contemporary scientific imaginary posits how cyborgs, aliens, avatars and androids reflect and refract a rich spectrum of philosophical questionings, culminating in an epistemological analysis of the monster. Is the monster alive? Dead? Both? Whole or fragmented? Natural or fabricated? Fascinating or repulsive? Subject or Object? What effects and affects does he create, in horror movies (David Roche, (Re)Making Horror) and elsewhere. For that matter, if the non-monstrous determines the monstrous, what about the monster? Can it/does it think? What do we make of the monster’s voice?

In semiotic terms, what signs or criteria serve to identify the monster? In what sense does it correspond to the etymological sense of the word: a prodigy, a freak of nature, inextricably linked to the realm of the divine, of the fable, of chimera – a figure of transgression which peoples mythologies and contemporary tales of all kinds?

Our first task will be to determine if it is possible to establish a typology of the monstrous, if invariable signs exist or if the monstrous is necessarily unique. How does the uncanny color often-dichotomous interpretations of the monster?

Such questions naturally lead us to consider the matter of reception. How do modes of representation, exhibition, and spectacle – in short, the ways the monster is shown – play into our perceptions of monstrous behaviour? Can these forms of exhibition make monsters of a supposedly non-monstrous public? Indeed, can the very manner in which the monster is put on display be seen as a function of the manner in which we posit the Other, and in contemplating that Other might we see a reflection of ourselves?

Indeed, the monstrous defies categorisation and breaks down barriers, calling into question all forms of scientific and literary discourse: how are the ineffable, the unnameable, to be approached? Seen in this light, language seems to become an obstacle to representation rather than a means of communication. If the difficulties of seeing or saying can be overcome, re/presenting might constitute an alternative. Can we unveil the monster with the signs, figures and symbols of fiction ? Can fiction be understood as that which allows us, in spite of everything, to express in some way the reality of the monster, a reality which often goes beyond fiction?

If the importance accorded to language in the analysis of literary and visual narratives lends itself to a poetic and sociocritical approach, at the same time an epistemic approach allows us to explore epistemocritical perspectives, taking up the work of Jean-François Chassay. The semiotic approach favoured by Bertrand Gervais (Logique de l'imaginaire) will also guide participants’ analyses. Examining the question of how scientific discourses about monsters nurture artistic creation, and how in turn fiction makes use of scientific knowledge and even serves as a kind of display window for scientific thought, suggesting illustrations or offshoots to complex forms of monstrosity.

Proposals may address the following aspects but not exclusively :
• Forms and signs of the monster and the monstrous: semiotic approach
• Modes of representation
• figures and figurations
• Discourses and narratives on/of the monster and the monstrous in all artistic fields
- role of narration, role of fiction, specificities of visual arts
- role played by modes of exhibition, graphic arts
- scientific discourse, scientific imagination
- sociological and/or anthropological approach
- philosophical approach
Proposals may focus on all media: texts (fiction/faction/essays/narratives), films, TV Series, photography, paintings.
Proposals should be sent to the THREE following addresses: chassay.jean-francois@uqam.ca, machinal@univ-brest.fr et Myriam.Marrache-Gouraud@univ-brest.fr before June 30th 2015.

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