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Dipartimento di Lingue, letterature e culture straniere

The Ethics and Politics of Representation

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International conference
The Ethics and Politics of Representation

University of Bergamo, Italy 25-27 October 2011

Hosted by:
University of Bergamo
PhD in Euro-American Literatures/Doctoral School of Humanities
(Partner of the European PhDNet "Literary and Cultural Studies")


The academically enriching contacts between the five European partners of the PhD-Net in Literary and Cultural Studies (the Universities of Giessen, Bergamo, Helsinki, Stockholm, and the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon) during the past three years have secured a firm basis for a wider cooperation between these institutions for a second doctoral cycle (2011-2013), including jointly or individually organized events as part of our shared didactic and scientific agenda. It is therefore a special pleasure to announce this academic conference at Bergamo, which will bring together academics, scholars, and doctoral students from various fields in the humanities, ranging from cultural studies to literary theory, from the history of ideas to material culture, from the visual arts to (art) history, in an interdisciplinary and intercultural effort to look into the complex ethical and political implications and dynamics of representation.

Representation is never innocent, or objectively neutral, especially when it claims to be so. We wish to explore various modes and purposes of representation in literature, in the visual arts, film, and media and we wish to examine how specific strategies have produced, contested and transmitted "values" in history. Specific mechanisms are at work in representation, and they are both the expression and vehicle of ideology/ideologies. After the so called "Ethical Turn" at the beginning of our millennium, this is still a major issue in literary theory and we wish to investigate it with special focus on its relevance to global modernity and contemporary culture. We believe that values are not a "natural given", but that they are created, negotiated, proposed and disseminated in culture, and that it is crucially important to get a grasp on how this is effected in various representational processes. As we address this ancient issue, which runs through the history of philosophy and literature from Aristotle to Deleuze, we recognize that the realms of ethics, politics and representation have always been, and still are, mutually implicated and responsive to each other. We shall look at the work of writers, poets, artists, social critics and theorists in the humanities, starting from the recognition of the inescapable presence of language and ideology in the construction of identity and culture(s).

The following questions and/or related new ones will be adressed:

  • (How) Are the Ethical and the Political related?
  • Language and Ethics
  • Theories of value
  • Aesthetic RÚgimes
  • The "Ethical Turn" in Literary Theory and the Humanities
  • Ethical narratology
  • Ideology in literature, film and the media
  • Overt and/or covert ethical / political assumptions presiding over specific representations
  • Historical Perspectives in the Ethics of Literary Criticism
  • Literature / Visual Arts and Trauma
  • Ecocriticism
  • The ethical and political function of Art, Literature, and the Media in a postmodern context and globalized world.

Head of Organization Committee

Prof. Angela Locatelli
News and Documents
Conference Programme
Conference Website
How to get to Bergamo

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