The epic’s extension today: between expansion and extinction.
October 21st-23rd 2010, EA 741, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France.
« The epic’s extension today: between expansion and extinction »
« L’épopée aujourd’hui : entre expansion et extinction, son extension »
Colloque international, Montpellier les 21, 22 & 23 octobre 2010
Morning : room/ salle C 020
directeur de l’IRIEC (équipe d’accueil 740) et Christine Reynier, directrice
d’EMMA (équipe d’accueil 741).
Chair/ Modérateur : Bénédicte CHORIER-FRYD
Death, Gods and Destiny”
English Poetry: Ted Hughes, Christopher Logue and Classical Epic”
Metageneric reflections on the epic in the contemporary American novel”
11-11.20: pause café/ coffee break
Chair/ Modérateur: Gérard SIARY
foisonnement dans l’épopée du XXème siècle »
l’épopée selon Saint-John Perse »
Butor, ou l’Amérique comme lieu épique de la poésie française »
13-14.30: déjeuner/ lunch break
Afternoon : Salle des Commissions
Chair/ Modérateur: Vincent DUSSOL
russe : avatars des récits et relance de l’épique »
épique perdue : The California Poem de Eleni Sikelianos »
Lancinance de l’épique dans les romans de Claude Simon et Antonio Lobo
Antunes, ainsi que dans Non, ou la veine gloire de commander de Manoel de
16.10 -16.30: coffee break/ pause café
Chair/ Modérateur: Will MONTGOMERY
Power: Atwood’s Governmental Epic”
Man in Full, de Tom Wolfe”
19- /02 (or when did Barton Barton Barton Barton and Barton ?)": L’épique
ouvert et critique des Maximus Poems de Charles Olson
18.15-19: lecture de poésie/ poetry reading
Salle des Commissions all day
Chair/ Modérateur: Michel BANDRY
everyone else: in search of the untold intimate and universal truth, or a
pastiche of the epic in Percival Everett’s American Desert.”
returns “to shore and safety”?
héroïques et fabrique de la fiction. The Lake in the woods et The things
they carried de Tim O’Brien »
10.30-11: pause café/ coffee break
Chair/ Modérateur: Jeremy DOWNES
Jacques Roubaud »
13-14.30: lunch break/ déjeuner
Chair/ Modérateur: Abigail LANG
Cantos: epic within epic, problematization and illustration of the relation
between myth and history.”
l’épopée du modernisme »
16.15-16.45: coffee break/ pause café
16.45-18.15: conférence/ keynote address by Eleni SIKELIANOS
20: conference dinner/ repas du colloque
Salle des Commissions all day
Chair/ Modérateur: Denis MELLIER
l’infini de l’épique : digenèse et relation dans la poétique glissantienne »
guerre et divertissement »
10.40-11: pause café/ coffee break
Chair/ Modérateur: Delphine RUMEAU
historical distance in the Homeric versions of Derek Walcott and Michael
“An Ever-Extending Dialogue with the Dead Poets: Nekuia as a Site of Epic
Dialogization in New World Epics”
Aurobindo : une épopée-monde ? »
13-14.30: déjeuner/ lunch break
Chairs/ Modérateurs: Simon DENTITH, John HOLMES
Contemporary Genre of the Foreshortened Epyllion
Community in Contemporary American Women’s Epic
l’humanité : interprétations antiques et modernes de l’Odyssée »
17.30 Apéritif to end the conference/ apéritif de fin de colloque
“What has been lost (…) is the epic, or rather, the taste for the poetic
continuum such as once informed the epic vein of Romanticism” (C.
Doumet). How much of a fact is that?
For, as “a wandering path towards what must be an ancient skill” (S.
Bouquet), the epic and the heroic continue to haunt the literary
landscape in a wide variety of fashions ranging from the “fictions of
globalization” (J. Annesley) to The Lord of the Rings craze and to the
recent new translations of foundational texts of the genre – Yusef
Komunyaka’s Gilgamesh (2006) and Ciaran Carson’s Inferno (2002) and Táin (2007) among them – as well as the uninterrupted dialogue with heroic gestures being written by contemporary poets.
Martinican writer Edouard Glissant in his Faulkner, Mississippi (1996)
may offer a possible gate of entry to the question of the relevance of
the epic when he observes that
“Today the only community with a cast entitling it to community-building
is the world-as-commune (…). The new epos originates in that community –
the world-as-a-whole – which is the only one that does not conceive of
itself or feels itself as such. It has been the office of the epic to be
entrusted with the expression of all communities. Epics of the ancient
world and epics of the nearer past did it through the exclusionary
heroic, meant for times when human communities were as much defined by
ethnic and even genetic boundaries as by the “universal” dimension each
one of them held. Epics for the present and for the world that is to
rise might do it through the participative and inclusive heroic which
could lead to the world-as-commune, and in which nothing short of the
“universal” would be the finite and infinite measure of all cultures and
of all human kinds (…). All literatures in the world are in attendance
as all of them together are being introduced to this new heroic in such
a prodigiously diversified manner– and it is as if the astounded face of
the epic was looking at the gathering of all of us again (…). To us, the
grandiose heroic of excluding the other is nothing but furbelows (…).
The world-as-commune calls for that other epic, which Faulkner
adumbrated, the epic of the difficult Relation. ”
Participants in the conference are invited to address the question of
whether or not the notions of “the exclusionary heroic” and of the
“participative and inclusive heroic” are useful starting-points for a
renewed reflection on the heroic and the epic. Should one speak of the
expansion or even of the distension of the epic instead of the predicted
dilution of the heroic?
The epic has always borne some relation to a wish to “say it all”, say
the “whole” and thereby alter the perception of it by fitting it into a
form. It has therefore often been wedded to the political.
Is this still the case? For instance, have works – both long and short –
with epic features published since 1989 shown an inclination to
challenge globalization or on the contrary have they been subtly
accompanying it? Do such texts “think globally,” with the Earth or with
the economist’s or workers’ world in mind? Or do they enhance local or
minority identity? Or can they do both things at once, i.e., promote
difference while drawing up a sustainable larger picture? Or is
Worstward Ho the main direction pointed to? In short, what road maps
have been in the writing – or are there no longer roads for epics to forge?
And whence does Glissant’s distinction stem? In some ways, it echoes
Simone Weil’s famous “The Iliad or the Poem of Force.” Does the
non-bellicose epic have a future? Has there been any offspring for The
Iliad as Weil saw it?
With the United States’ influence across the world, American literary
production of the past two decades makes a choice field for scrutinizing
the treatment of the conflicting priorities within aesthetic forms
aiming at the global reorganization outlined above.
However, it is equally obvious that this generic and political
reexamination of the relation between the heroic and the building of
worlds cannot be confined solely to the field of American literature as
this would defeat the purpose of this conference, whose intention it is
to consider a more global epic possibility. So both English-language
literature specialists and comparatists are welcome to submit: this is
primarily an invitation to examine American works with epic features of
the past twenty years – in the field of poetry and also of literature as
a whole – but this conference also wishes to rekindle “Relation” and be
an occasion for taking a retrospective look at older works which may
shed light on more recent uses of the heroic and the epic – from Piers
Plowman to Claude Simon’s novels. The comparative approach is of course
irreplaceable to attain even a tentative panoramic view of the genre.
Submissions – 300 words in length – should be sent to Vincent Dussol by
November 15th 2009.
The languages of the conference will be English and French.
A volume of the articles selected by the reading committee will be