Death Representations in Literature. Forms and Theories

Adriana Teodorescu lance un appel à communication pour un ouvrage publié dans une originale (et macabre) collection des Presses Universitaires de Cambridge : « Dying and death studies ». Intitulée « Death representations in Litterature. Forms and theories », cette proposition pourrait intéresser nombre de chercheurs travaillant sur la bande dessinée, notamment car l’appel à communication que nous reproduisons ci-dessous fait place à l’étude de toutes sortes de représentations. En sus des pistes proposées, il en est une qui nous semble pouvoir être extrêmement fructueuse : celles des « tabous » ou autres formes d’interdits quant à la représentation de la mort. La chose est ici en partie évoquée (en terme de moralité) à propos de la littérature de jeunesse, mais la question se pose également dans le cas de la bande dessinée. La mort d’enfant ne semble par exemple que fort marginalement évoquée et nous peinons à trouver d’autres exemples que Le Petit monde de Toru Terada et Jean-David Morvan qui narre de façon très crue le quotidien des jeunes habitants d’un bidonville. La mort d’animaux nous semble tout aussi rare présente, et lorsqu’elle est présente c’est pour être mise au service de faits historiques plus macabres encore : pensons au superbe La Bête est morte de Victor Dancette, Jacques Zimmerman et Edmond-François Calvo dans lequel des loups (et notamment le « Grand loup toujours en Fureur » représentant bien sûr le Führer) s’en prennent à d’autres espèces, ou encore au Maus d’Art Spiegelmann qui s’inscrit dans la même lignée. Cette liste n’est bien sûr pas exhaustive et nous laissons à nos lecteurs le soin de la compléter avant le 2 mars prochain.

Death Representations in Literature. Forms and Theories

Chapter proposals are invited for an edited volume entitled “Death Representations in Literature. Forms and Theory” to be published at Cambridge Scholars Publishing, in the Dying and Death Studies series.

If the academic field of death studies is a prosperous one, there still seems to be a lack of interest or a mistrust concerning the capacity of literature to give socially relevant information about death and to help improve the anthropological understanding of how culture is shaped by the human condition of being mortal. Furthermore, academically but also from a common sense perspective, the relationship between literature and death tends to be trivialized, in the sense that death representations are interpreted in an over-aestheticized manner. What derives from such an approach is the fact that death in literature is considered significant only for literary studies and the emergence of certain persistent clichés as for example the power of literature per so to annihilate death. The proposed volume aims at surpassing these stereotypes and at revealing the great potential of literary studies in providing fresh and accurate ways of interrogating death as a steady unavoidable human reality and as an ever continuing socio-cultural construction.

Bellow you will find some possible topics of research. Nevertheless, the list is not exhaustive, so you must not feel limited to it.

·         The characteristics of representing death (patterns, socio-literary functions) in one or more literary species (novel, essay, lyric poems, fairy tales, crime story, fantasy, science fiction).

·         What from death is represented in literature: attitudes towards death, funerary rituals, ways of ending life/dying, death of the Other(s), my death (“death at first person”), afterlife images, corpse

·         Comparisons: burial – cremation , suicide/murder – “tamed” death, my death – the death of the Other, mortality – immortality

·         Death representations in European literature, death representations in Asian or African literature (cultural patterns)

·         Can we speak about a homogeneous vision upon death and dying in the case of some literary and artistic movements such as romanticism, dark romanticism (gothic) existentialism, symbolism, naturalism, magical realism, etc.

·         How do people (writers or not) perceive/imagine/describe their death through their personal diaries

·         Differences and similarities between representing death in literature and death representations in other connected fields: philosophy, anthropology, cinematography, photography, visual arts, etc.

·         Literary representations of death in the entire work of a specific author (e.g. Dostoyevsky, Camus, Sartre, S. Plath, Herta Muller, etc.)

·         To what extent does the literary representation of death refer to the extra-fictional Death

·         Are there any differences between a literary representation of death and another? What sort of differences

·         Is it moral to represent death in children’s literature or are there any aesthetic and moral constraints; what about other types of literature

·         Are the literary representations of death a reliable source for a history of death

·         Are the metaphors of death expressions/forms of death denial or, on the contrary, a more insightful way of capturing the meaning of death

·         Is an author who represents death in his or her literature more prone to accept his or her own death

·         The social and aesthetical stake of displaying particular ways of dying: by suicide, by crime, by murder, by euthanasia, by illness.

Both theoretical and non-theoretical approaches are welcome. Yet, case studies such as analyzing the representation of death in one writing exclusively are not very encouraged, unless it is a literary work emblematic for a certain period of time/attitude in the face of death or unless it is a writing where death plays an important part (e.g. The death of Ivan Ilych, As I Lay Dying, Death with Interruptions, etc.).

Important dates:

02 March 2014: Deadline for proposal submission

09 March 2014: Notification of proposal acceptance

20 April 2014: Deadline for paper submission

11 May 2014: Notification of acceptance (possibly with suggestions)

01 June 2014: Submission of final version

Proposals should include:

·         an abstract of maximum 500 words

·         3-7 keywords

·         a short narrative CV: 5-10 lines

Guidelines for the final paper should be provided on acceptance.

Editor: Adriana Teodorescu

Contact: adriana.teodorescu@gmail.com


Une réflexion au sujet de « Death Representations in Literature. Forms and Theories »

  1. Il ne s’agit pas des presses universitaires de Cambridge mais de Cambridge Scholars Publishing, sorte d’équivalent de l’Harmattan en terme de sélectivité et de suivi des ouvrages publiés (ce qui n’enlève rien à la qualité potentielle des ouvrages).

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