The crossroads of Literature and Social Praxis
The 16th International Comparative Literature Colloquium

The Concept
Prepared by Marcello Potocco, one of the colloquium chairs

The symposium The Crossroads of Literature and Social Praxis will be devoted to the research on the interaction of literature and its social context. On the one hand this opens the question of how literature and art take part in the circulation of significations and representations in the construction of social reality. On the other hand the path is opened to the research on how actants in a given society use (and abuse) literary praxis in the creation of specific significations, as well as research on the ideological narratives that are reproduced in society. With the Althusserian school at the latest, as well as the theory of discourse, it became clear that literature should not necessarily be understood as an autonomous social praxis. On the contrary, it may be interpreted as a praxis operating within discursive formations, where significations are (re)produced, even in the manner of using the ideology of autonomy. In cultural studies, literature is likewise regarded as a praxis in the circuit of culture which operates as an intersection of identity, production and consumption of cultural products, their regulation and representation; it therefore also operates as a discursive process (re)producing social meanings.
The symposium The Crossroads of Literature and Social Praxis will not altogether ignore the theoretical observation of these problems; in the past five decades, the research on these issues has been very fruitful and diverse, and to some extent exhausted. This is why we would like our symposium to focus on case studies revealing the mechanisms of literary and social representations both in a more general context (e.g. cases of national ideology) as well as within specific social contexts. The symposium would like to shed some light on the period after World War 2, especially on the operation of discursive formations in countries of both the Eastern and the Western Bloc, i.e. the eastern communist and the western capitalist countries; these can also be compared with regard to the open and/or latent (hidden) ideological interpelation in their societies.