Columbia University French Grad. Conference: Authenticity (Due: 1/6/2014)



Call for papers: 2014 French Graduate Student Association Conference, Columbia University

Conference date: February 28, 2014

Submission deadline: January 6, 2014

Location: Columbia University, New York, NY

Authentication, as the proper attribution of a work to its author, is one of the oldest and most persistent preoccupations of specialists of art and literature. Despite myriad critiques, forgeries, and artistic assaults, it is still as fundamental to the art market as it is to the global economy: people and things must be what they seem in order for exchange and valuation to be possible. Defined in opposition to the fictional (as feigned or crafted), authenticity has also taken an important place in the literature of autobiography and témoinage as the product or object of a narrative strategy. Growing out of the tradition of Rousseau and the romantics, authentic subjectivity, as demonstrated by spontaneity, sincerity, self-expression, and refusal of cultural norms and prescriptions, has become strongly tied to the conception of experience, community, and action; however, amidst the many critical attempts to dethrone the hegemony of a familiarly circumscribed subject, we might begin to imagine other methods of grounding movements, belonging and self-expression. For example, as Frederic Jameson suggests, we might understand authenticity in purely negative terms, or more precisely, as beyond positivity (“humanism, human nature, individuality, and so forth”), as impossible absence or lack.


This conference asks, how do people—citizens, artists, intellectuals, revolutionaries —and things—commodities, slogans, artworks, texts—authenticate themselves? In what circumstances are they called on to do so?


Scholars from all disciplines are invited to submit relevant abstracts of no more than 250 words


Possible topics include:

Authentication of artworks, texts, marketing and commerce

Artifice, performance, manners and spontaneity

Authenticity and self-expression

Authenticity and electoral politics

Authenticity and spontaneity in music

Authenticity and counter-cultural movements

Authenticity in the politics of food (“real” food)

Autobiography and confession

Checkpoints and identification cards

Discourses of authenticity and spontaneity in nationalist and protest movements

Ideologies of self-expression, self-presentation and performance

Itinerancy and authenticity

Non-hegemonic cultural production and spontaneous self-expression

Plagiarism and suspicion

Rhetorical and narrative strategies of authentication

Spontaneity and consciousness in Fanon and his critics

Authenticity, spontaneity, legitimacy and revolution