Stadt: Utrecht, Niederlande

Frist: 2016-09-23

Beginn: 2017-07-06

Ende: 2017-07-09


American Comparative Literature Association
Utrecht University, July 6-9, 2017


Comparative literature has worked for decades with three strands of research in technology studies that circuit through each other to varying degrees. The first is scholarship in poststructuralist narratology, considering narrative itself as a machine, mechanism or device which develops or devolves agency— or otherwise acquires considerable internal dynamics (Derrida 2005, Ronell 1988). The second is scholarship investigating representations of machines, robots and cyborgs, and other artificial protagonists in narrative fiction, particularly in science fiction or electronic literature (Dunn and Ehrlich 1987, Milner 2011). And the third is digital literary studies, which employs computational methods, including machine learning, to investigate matters of style, authorship, structure and meaning in literary texts (e.g. Moretti 2007, Jockers 2013), and concepualizes this type of literary analysis as employing “reading machines” ( Ramsay 2011).

As each of these three strands of research approach different and potentiallycomplementary perspectives on the relation between machine and text, placing them in dialogue promises to enrich the work of scholars of each individual line . Some of the more recent contributions bridging two or more of them support this view (e.g. Eve 2016, Forlini et al. 2016). With this call, we are therefore inviting scholars who identify with one of the above-mentioned research areas and have a curiosity for the other ones to submit proposals located at one of the intersections of these three research areas.

Possible areas for exploration may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The machine and science fiction, as, for example, in Jules Verne, Gustave Le Rouge, J.-H. Rosny aîné, Nathalie Henneberg, Jean-Pierre Andrevon, Thomas Pynchon, Mary Shelley, Franz Kafka, E.T. A. Hoffmann, Andreas Eschbach, H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick.
  • Theory that bends narrative in its analyses of the machine. Possible authors: Hannah Arendt, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Jaques Derrida, Friedrich Kittler, Paul de Man, Bruno Latour, Avital Ronell.
  • Digital methods and machine objects: How do computational literary studies intersect with texts that foreground technology thematically? Do such texts require or suggest specific methods or moments of reflection? Might these texts ironize or otherwise cast new perspectives on the new methods used to read them?
  • Accounts of calculation and the incalcuable
  • Timings of the technological subject from Descartes to Heidegger.
  • Power and the Machine’s Story: Surveillance Studies, Drone Studies, Forensic Aesthetics.

Please submit 300 word abstracts via the ACLA website by September 23, 2016: .

Interested participants are encouraged to contact the seminar organizers Jeffrey Champlin and Christof Schöch <> with any questions.


Derrida, Jacques (2005). Paper Machine. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Dunn, Thomas P.; Ehrlich, Richard D., eds. (1982). The Mechanical God: Machines in Science Fiction. Westport CT: Greenwood Press
Eve, Martin Paul (2016). ““You have to keep track of your changes”: The Version Variants and Publishing History of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas”, Open Library of the Humanities 2.2.
Forlini, Stefania; Hinrichs, Uta; Moynihan, Bridget (2016). " The Stuff of Science Fiction: An Experiment in Literary History", Digital Humanities Quarterly 10.1,
Jockers, Matthew L (2013). Macroanalysis – Digital Methods and Literary History. Champaign IL: University of Illinois Press.
Milner, Andrew (2011). Locating Science Fiction. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
Moretti, Franco (2005). Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London: Verso.
Ramsay, Stephen (2011). Reading Machines : Toward an Algorithmic Criticism. Urbana Ill.: University of Illinois Press.
Ronell, Avital (1989). The Telephone Book: Technology—Schizophrenia—Electric Speech. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Wittig, Frank (1997). Maschinenmenschen: zur Geschichte eines literarischen Motivs im Kontext von Philosophie, Naturwissenschaft und Technik. Würzburg: Könighausen und Neumann.

Beitrag von: Christof Schöch

Redaktion: Christof Schöch