The 42nd annual Comparative Literature Conference, hosted by the CSULB’s Department of Comparative World Literature and Classics, returns to campus Thursday and Friday, March 15-16 in the Karl Anatol Center.
Co-organized by Comparative World Literature and Classics’ Nhora Serrano and Cheryl Goldstein, this year’s conference topic is “Women, Sexuality and Early Modern Studies.”
“We’re especially pleased this year to have as our top speakers Kenyon College’s Laura Finke who will speak on the first day on ‘From Reverence to Rape: Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Virgin Spring,’” said Serrano. Her talk will be welcomed by new provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Gould.
On the next day, Stacey Schlau of West Chester University will deliver the featured talk, “What Happens When A Judaizing ‘Old Christian’ Woman Confronts the Mexican Inquisition?”
“Medieval and Renaissance studies have always been exciting and intriguing,” said Serrano. “This is especially so now in everything from the Harry Potter films to ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ These periods are no so much enjoying a resurgence as continuing a long-time interest in the past.”
One of the program’s highlights comes on March 15 with a panel on the impact of Shakespeare.
“I’m looking forward to the panel ‘Bending the Boundaries: Transition in Gender and Narrative’ with a panel on women in Shakespeare featuring USC’s Unhae Langis on ‘Shakespeare’s Cleopatra as Virtuous Virago,’ Victoria Price from the University of Glasgow on ‘Troping Prostitution: Othello’s Whores’ and the University of Nebraska’s Sarah Mandl on “’Swallowing Womb:’ The Devouring Maternal in Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’” said Goldstein.
“I’m excited to see three panels on Boccaccio featuring CSULB graduate students following the Shakespeare panels,” said Serrano, which will address such topics as “Through the Eyes of a Woman: Science, Society and the Female ‘Space’ in Boccaccio’s ‘L’Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta’” from CSULB graduate student Rebecca Addicks.
On Friday, March 16, highlights include a panel on “Medieval Lives, Media Cities – Medieval Visions, Modern Spaces” featuring Comparative World Literature and Classics’ Pravina Cooper on “Play It Again, Polanski: Hollywood and Bollywood’s Chinatowns” followed by Constance Moffatt from Pierce College on “Urban Set Designs for Living: Princely Milan and Scenography.”
“I’m pleased at our non-Western perspectives,” said Goldstein. She pointed to March 16 panels by Abdel Fattah Farah on “The Conflict between Traditions and Religious Values of Islam,” Kayode Kofoworola and Beatrice Okoh from Kenya’s Bingham University on “They Were Women but They Rode Their Men: Queens in Nigerian Literature” and Ameh Dennis Akoh from Nigeria’s Kogi State University on “Traveling Theory: The Feminism and Womanism of Tess Onwueme.”
Also on March 16 will be “Feminine Empowerment: Rendering the Political Female” with Sasha Garwood from Oxford’s Keble College on “Defiance and Death: Jane Lumley and Euripides’s ‘Iphigenia,’” Veronique Desnain from the University of Edinburgh on “Gender, Education and Politics in Gabriel Suchon,” and Nuria Silleras-Fernandez on “A Franciscan Ideal: Francesc Eiximenis and Queenship in Late Medieval Spain.”
The medieval and Renaissance periods have much to say to the 21st century.
“There are more similarities between what is going on now in our day and age and what went on in medieval times and the Renaissance than meets the eye,” said Goldstein. “To figure that out, those interested in the periods need to come and listen.”
“There are many different facets to the period, from the travel literature of nuns to witchcraft that are of continuing interest,” said Serrano. “An international conference like this reflects not only on the long tradition of this department but on the discipline of Comparative World Literature and Classics.”