THE POETICS OF PRECARITY Literature, Art and the Precarious Condition
The conference 'The Poetics of Precarity' focuses on the intellectual and cultural imaginations of precarity from a historical point of view. Since the 1980s, sociological precarity theories have provided an influential and productive discursive model to describe the work and life conditions in post-Fordist and global capitalism. Precarity and acquainted notions like ‘precarisation’ capture various aspects and effects of the socio-economic processes that gradually push more and more sections of the population in an intensified state of uncertainty and contingency. These structural developments have generated a new ‘dangerous’ class, the ‘precariat’, that manifests itself in protest movements such as the ‘Mayday Movement’ or, most recently, the ‘Yellow Vests’. These narratives, concepts and phenomena not only have poetical and theatrical dimensions of their own; they have inspired cultural and artistic production as well. By way of aesthetic experiments, artists and writers have tried to mediate and shape the imagination and perception of precarious realities. New poetic tools and writing strategies have been developed to represent, explore, transmit, legitimize or criticize the many faces of precarity. Up to now, these trends and their imaginative and aesthetic foundations have solely been examined by focusing on the novelty of the contemporary precarious condition. Whereas precarity has always been a part of capitalism and modernity, exactly this aspect has been neglected. The conference will explore the historical origins of the intellectual traditions and aesthetic reflections of the imagination of precarity from a variety of angles; its goal is to engage upon a critical dialogue between sociologists, political theorists and literary scholars, but also with writers and artists themselves.
To explore the ‘poetics of precarity’ from a variety of angles, this conference invites panels and individual papers that deal with or are related to one or more of the following topics:
- The representation and representability of precarious working and living conditions.
- Precarious minds and bodies.
- Types and patterns of precarisation, i.e. of the process of becoming-precarious.
- The tensions between sociological and literary precarity narratives.
- Precarious genres and media, as well as their histories.
- Alternate literary histories of precarity.
- Precarity across national forms of literatures.
- Precarity and popular culture.
- Precarity and the poetics of everyday life.
- Figures of precarity: identities of the precarious worker and the ‘precariat’/‘proletariat’.
- The gender of precarious work.
- Precarious work and migration.
- Precarious subjects and/as writers or artists (also as a literary theme).
- The aesthetic experience of precarity (e.g. time, fragmentation, disorientation).
- The representation and production of precarious affects like anxiety, alienation, anger.
- Precarity and realism (e.g. the realism debates, the notion of ‘new realism’).
- The precarious condition of literature: who reads precarity narratives anyway?
- Precarity and the aesthetics of social agency, protest and activism.
- Precarity and ideology (e.g. socialism, liberalism, anarchism).