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Annual Comparative Literature Conference Returns April 30

Published: April 15, 2009

The 44th Annual Comparative Literature Conference returns to campus on Thursday, April 30, with the theme “Johnny Got his Pen: Artists’ Involvement in Peace and War.” Participants will discuss how literature and the arts depict, incite, criticize and mitigate political conflicts throughout history and within contemporary societies. Admission is free.

The Academy Award nominated film “Before the Rain” will be screened at 2 p.m. in the Karl Anatol Center. The director, Macedonian/American Milcho Manchevski, is a professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. In addition to its Oscar nomination, the 1994 film received more than 30 awards including the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. Manchevski’s other feature films are 2001’s “Dust” (2001) and most recently “Shadows” (2007).

The event is sponsored by the Center for European Studies, the European Studies Subcommittee, the Department of Journalism, the Department of Comparative World Literature and Classics, the Associated Students of Comparative Literature and the College of Liberal Arts.

“This an opportunity to see a film that is dramatic, beautiful and shows a part of the world most Americans know very little about,” said Carl Fisher, chair of Comparative Literature and Classics who joined the university in 2000. “This is the 44th iteration of the Comparative Literature Conference. We have a history of presenting vibrant events open to everybody in the university and the surrounding community. Some of our past speakers have included `Godfather’ director Francis Coppola and mythologist Joseph Campbell.”

On Thursday, April 30, at 9:30 a.m., a panel on “Cultural Myths and Other Fictions” will be chaired by Comparative World Literature and Classics’ Cheryl Goldstein. Papers will include “Bulgakov’s Bridges: The Master and Margarita and How it Bridges Russia’s Past with its Present” by Claire Dillon. Others include Ivana Guarrasi on “Why Cinderella Cries: Comparing Gypsy vs. ‘Classic’ Fairy Tale Narratives,” Craig Carroll on “Identifying the Soldier, the Enemy, and the Battlefield before the Conquest,” and Whitney Donaldson on “Self-Referential Superheroes: Metafiction and Narrative Complexity in Watchmen.”

Beginning at 11 a.m. will be a panel on “Central and Eastern European Reflections” chaired by Comparative World Literature and Classics’ Al Baum. Presentations will include Paizha Stoothoff on “Edvard Kobcek: The Partitioning of Slovenian Identity in the 20th Century,” Sarah Babovic on “Bridging the Generation Gap: Trauma and Memory in Contemporary Bosnian Film,” Brian Addison on “Fascist/tsitrA: Gunter Grass and Expressing Fascism” and “The Fifth Wall: Borders between Media and Action in The Lives of Others” from Devin O’Neill.

The current conference follows the department’s landmark 2008 hosting of the American Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Meeting in Long Beach with its theme of “Arrivals and Departures.” That conference brought to Long Beach more than 1,200 participants from around the country and around the world.
Fisher encourages both campus and community to attend the event.

“This conference offers the opportunity to hear and see things that are not part of the normal course of class work and culture,” he said. “It will be a lively and vibrant event.”

More information is available by accessing the conference Web site.