CALL FOR PAPERS
An International Forum on Language, Text and Suffering
10-12 August 2015
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Pain is a universal element of human existence but it is also one that all too often eludes definition and description. In her pioneering work, Elaine Scarry argues that pain defies language: "physical pain does not simply resist language, but actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language, to the sounds and cries a human being makes before language is learned." And yet physical as well as psychological pain requires if not demands translation into language broadly defined, whether in academic research; individual and communal accounts of suffering; medical reports; legal trials; performance and visual arts; and a host of other contexts.
On 10-12 August 2015, Monash University (in partnership with the University of Warwick) will convene a forum in Melbourne, Australia focused on the translation of pain across multiple historical and disciplinary perspectives. The forum will consist of a series of keynote lectures, a small academic symposium, and a larger academic conference. The events are co-sponsored by the Mobility, Translation and Identity Network, the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and the Research Program in Global History.
Confirmed keynote speakers include:
Ernst van Alphen (Leiden University)
Seán Hand (University of Warwick)
David Simon (Yale University)
For the conference, which will be held on 12 August, we invite submissions that explore such
• What constitutes pain and suffering as categories of scholarly analysis? How do they extend beyond the linguistic realm to other forms of expression?
• How are pain or suffering represented in historical archives?
• What are the challenges and possibilities involved in examining pain and suffering across historical distance as well as diverse national and cultural contexts?
• Can pain, as experienced in individual or collective terms, and including experiences of mass violence and genocide, be translated into language and other forms of expression?
• How can the study of the translation of pain inform current debates and practices as they pertain to issues including, though not limited to: legal studies and applications; medical and disability studies, rights, and activism; state and non-state forms of terrorism and torture; gendered violence; struggles for indigenous rights; and genocide and mass violence?
Individual proposals should consist of an abstract (around 200-300 words) for a paper of 20
minutes duration. Please include a brief biographical statement with your abstract. Proposals
for panels with multiple papers on a common topic should follow the above format for each
author and panel chair.
Extended submission deadline: Monday, 8 June 2015