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American Comparative Literature Association

ACLA 2014: “Capitals”

NYU, New York City, March 20-23, 2014

DEADLINE November 15, 2013

The Poetics of Fascism

Fascist ideology comprises a multifaceted aesthetic-theoretical register. Due to its semantic density, fascism poses a challenge when we try to define it or map its spatial and temporal boundaries. While there are multiple and disparate fascist movements, as in the case of Italy, Germany, Japan, Romania, Spain and Latin-America, this panel inquires whether it is possible to identify a common mental and aesthetic structure among these instances as expressions of a “generic” fascism.
Walter Benjamin, for example, has defined the aestheticization of politics as the crux of the discursive and aesthetic structure of fascism. This, however, raises many questions. Is all aesthetic staging of politics necessarily fascist; or are alternate aestheticizations of politics possible? Conversely, can we identify instances of fascism that escape this definition of aesthetic form?
In addition, this panel invites commentaries on the utilization of post-fascist motives in political and literary theory today. Although discourses of biopolitics, posthumanism, and affect theory often overtly express their aversion towards fascism, it can be argued that they display elements which present striking similarities with the constitutive components of fascist ideology itself, such as the utopian dream of a new future species, the privileging of affective energies over cognitive and rational faculties, or the fusion of biological existence and political existence. What are the implications of these uncanny after-images of fascist ideology with and in contemporary theory? What are potential problems and incompatibilities in these theories? Can they, nevertheless, be effectively mobilized against fascist ideology today?

Topics include, but are not limited to:

–       Literature and Fascism
–       Cinematography and Fascism
–       Architecture and Fascism
–       the Dialectic of Enlightenment and Fascism
–       Capitalism and Fascism
–       Colonialism and Fascism
–       Gender and Fascism

Keywords: aestheticization of politics, aesthetics of resistance, capitalism, fascist imperialism, generic fascism, mass ornament, monumental politics

Please submit paper proposals (max. 250 words) via the ACLA 2014 website —    
Deadline: November 15, 2013.

For questions concerning the panel please contact the organizers of the panel directly:
Esther Edelmann: and Jennifer Kang:


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