§ Appel à contributions: Référence et référentialité

La question de la relation de référence sous-tend peut-être avant tout le problème d’une relation au temps, dans la mesure où l’existence d’un tissu référentiel suppose la préexistence d’un objet à l’écriture. Entre écriture et référent se trouve un écart qui ne se laisse ni figer ni évacuer, et qui serait peut-être un différend, ou une différance, remettant sans cesse en jeu le postulat d’un rapport stable. Cet espacement irréductible obligerait à interroger la relation des genres littéraires à l’histoire, la manière dont la fiction ou la poésie l’inscrivent ou la déplacent de manière singulière, mais aussi le rapport référentiel étroit dans lequel s’inscrivent certains genres, comme le roman réaliste ou naturaliste, le roman historique, la littérature engagée ou dissidente, la littérature de reportage, la biographie, l’autobiographie ou le roman policier.

Poser la question de la référence invite à repenser l’idée même de contexte artistique, de « mouvements » ou de « modes », et force à interroger la perspective empirique sur laquelle reposent les cultural studies et plus largement les approches herméneutiques qui se placent du côté d’une thématisation, d’une lecture des textes littéraires comme documents ou viviers de références culturelles, historiques et géographiques, et pour lesquelles les procédés de représentation sont moins singuliers que contraints par un contexte de production artistique, fût-il celui des avant-gardes et du modernisme le plus radical.

Les articles (30 000 – 55 000 caractères) pourront être rédigés en français ou en anglais. 

Les propositions détaillées (300-500 mots) sont à envoyer à :

Isabelle Alfandary (isabelle.alfandary@gmail.com), Priyanka Deshmukh (pri.deshmukh@gmail.com) et Juliana Lopoukhine (j_lopoukhine@yahoo.fr) avant le 30 juin 2018.

Les articles sont attendus pour le 15 décembre 2018.

Reference and Referentiality

What, if anything, does literature talk about? Aristotle’s theory of mimesis poses the question of the referential relationship between an object and its representation, between the world and language. If, for Saussure, language puts an end to the world with the advent of the sign, is it still possible to say that writing consists in describing, or even giving shape to the world, to the experience of the world? In literary criticism, the referential prism postulates the preexistence of a stable system of references—places, events, characters, historical and cultural context—as part of the reading pact that the literary text might make use of in order to become the metonymical space of a historical time. But does this referential prism still hold in the face of the radical power of language, and in the face of what this power does to the world?

This issue of L’Atelier not only seeks to examine writing as mediation, as that which happens to the world, and has the capacity to transform or even generate the world, but also as that which is itself created within the world and by the world. One of the goals of this issue will be to think about how the assumption that a literary work mirrors the world is called into question by that which escapes specularity, or in other words, by everything that happens to the text during the process of poiein, by everything that makes the referent disappear, replacing it with an intransitivity or an autotelism of language. Metaphors, images, the figurative, the implicit, translation, polysemy, hermetism, the instability of signs, subjectivity, modality, affect, experience, the indeterminate, the possible, the imaginary, the fabled, are some of the processes or modes that displace the referential system and reveal its illusion. 

Above all else, perhaps, the question of referential relation subtends the problem of a relationship to time insofar as the existence of a referential network presupposes the existence of an object prior to writing. There lies between writing and referent a gap that can neither be determined nor overcome—a gap that might perhaps be a difference or a différance, endlessly calling into question the postulate of a stable relationship. This irreducible gap begs the question of how certain literary genres relate to history—for instance, how fiction or poetry singularly record history or displace it. At the same time, it calls for an investigation into the narrow referential relation that characterizes such genres as the realist novel, the naturalistic novel, the historical novel, literature of commitment or dissent, literary reportage, biography, autobiography, or even crime fiction.

To examine referentiality is to rethink the very idea of artistic context, “movements,” or “modes,” and to question the empirical perspective upon which the field of cultural studies relies. More broadly, this issue seeks to question the hermeneutical approaches that favor thematization and a reading of literary texts as documents or as a breeding ground for cultural, historical, and geographical references. It also aims to challenge those approaches for which processes of representation are not so much singular as they are restricted by the context of artistic production, be it that of the avant-garde and that of the most radical modernism.