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Vol 58 No. 3 : March, 2006
Vol 58 No. 3 : March, 2006
CompLit Conference Back for 41st Annual

The 41st annual Comparative Literature Conference returns to CSULB on Thursday and Friday, March 9 and 10, sustaining its record as the longest-running event on campus.

“The Ancient and Modern Narrative: Intersections Interactions and Interstices” will arrive with a series of 50 presenters organized in panels to discuss topics as varied as Homer and Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad; Horace, Juvenal and 9/11; Sophocles and Graham Greene; Plato, Aristotle and Oscar Wilde; Plato and Raymond Carver; Bob Dylan and Classics; and Plato and the film “Hedwig and The Angry Inch.”

“We have scholars coming from as far away as Cameroon, Hong Kong and Baghdad, as well as plenty of more local people from Canada, Mexico City and this country,” said Kathryn Chew, who joined Comparative World Literature and Classics in 2003. “We have 45 participants in all.” Georgia Ladogianni, professor of philology at Greece’s University of Ioannina, will deliver the plenary address March 9 on “Ancient and Modern Greece: Myth in Poetry and Drama of the 20th Century.” CSULB presenters include Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures’ Claudia Gosselin and Comparative World Literature and Classics’ Jordan Smith.

In addition, on the evening of March 9, a group from UCLA’s English Department led by Fred Burwick will perform the Marquis de Sade’s Gothic satirical play “The Haunted Tower.” The evening of March 10 will see the traditional conference banquet while, on March 11, there will be a field trip to the re-opened Malibu Getty museum.

This year’s conference features a first-ever collaboration between the Comparative Literature and Classics branches of the department. “We can’t believe that no one had ever done this before, despite the similarity between our disciplines,” said Chew. “In our call for papers, we invited papers that address modern literary echoes of the classical world and direct adaptation of classical literature, both in canonical Western texts such as James Joyce’s the Odyssey and post-colonial appropriations such as Derek Walcott’s Omeros.” Presenters will include two CSULB lecturers and several students both from CSULB and other institutions.

“This is my first time participating in organizing a conference,” said Chew. “I was completely amazed at the diversity of our conference participants.” Last year’s conference featured between 80 and 90 presenters before an audience of 200.

“The conference is an important opportunity to create and renew ties with colleagues in other places and to have the sorts of stimulating conversations that drew us all to graduate school in the first place,” said Chew.

Chew hopes the conference will illustrate the impact of comparative literature on today’s world. “From having read all the abstracts myself, I hope that people will be amazed at how much classical thought and ideas permeate subsequent literature,” she said.

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