Shared at the request of Donna Beth Ellard and Christopher Foley. Please consider submitting an abstract: it looks fascinating!
Theoretical Archaeology Group USA 2015 Conference
New York, NY (NYU)
May 22-24, 2015
Session Proposal (Available online)
Presence without Presentism? A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue between Archeology and Literary Studies
Donna Beth Ellard (University of Denver, Donna.Ellard[at]du[dot]edu)
Christopher Foley (University of California, Santa Barbara, Christopher.d.foley[at]gmail[dot]com)
The body and its movements have, for many years, been key to the question of professional “presence” within the discipline of archaeology. At an excavation site or in the lab, archaeologists continuously (re)position their bodies in relation to the materials of a site even as they think in the present tense about the historical past. Such work demands that the archaeologist be professionally “present”: that she be, at once, historical interlocutor and artistic co-creator, assembling a scholarly version of the past that self-consciously refracts the personal investments of her embodied mind.
Literary studies, on the other hand, is a field that often capitalizes upon not being present. Literary critics trade in representation, “inhabit” fictional spaces, and perhaps most importantly they While historicism, a method invested in temporal difference and distance, often gives a necessary frame to a text, a frequent criticism of literary critics who don’t historicize appropriately or enough is that they are guilty of presentism, of constructing their arguments in too close a proximity to their personal selves.
This session seeks to engage a dialogue between archaeology and literary studies, two fields that have traditionally had little to say to one another, by considering the question of presence in both disciplines. We ask: What are the practices of professional presence in archaeology? And how can these practices inform and, perhaps enable, a more open and self-reflective scholarly “presence” in literary criticism? Our hope is to foster a dialogue that might reimagine the notion of critical presence as a productive point of convergence, where the artificial binaries of professional/personal and historical/theoretical are not opposed to one another but instead meet in a creative, critically inspired assemblage.
To these ends, we hope to engage in some form of pre-conference collaboration between archaeologists and literary critics, and we especially invite participants interested in talking with, and learning from, one another as participants in this panel.
If you are interested in presenting on this panel, please submit a 250-abstract to either Donna Beth Ellard or Christopher Foley by February 28, 2015.