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CFP: The Aesthetics and Politics of Irony

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Organizers: Elsa Alves (University of Copenhagen / CECC) and Ana Dinger
(CECC, Catholic University of Portugal)

CFA: Following on from the Fourth Graduate Conference in Culture Studies, Irony: framing (post)modernity, held in January 2014 at the Catholic University of Portugal, we would like to prompt a reflection on the problem of irony in modern and contemporary culture.

After the tragedy of 9/11 in the West and the crisis of socialism in the East, the overriding ironic tone that had pervaded the 80s and 90s has begun to withdraw from the aesthetic and socio-political scenes. The last decades have witnessed an increasing celebration of affects and emotions, a return of authenticity and the real, and the birth of a “new sincerity”. This backlash against ironic alienation or “cynical reason” hopes to replace playfulness, shallowness and negativity for an ethos of commitment, sensitivity and integrity. Nevertheless, these attempts could easily turn out to be rhetorical or ironic.

The present book seeks to address, on one hand, the impulse of and the resistance to irony in today’s artistic, cultural and political discourses and practices. On the other hand, given that ironic attitudes and expressions in late modernity are anticipated in German Idealism, constituting as such a Romantic possibility, we welcome reflections on modern irony at large.

Some of the key questions we wish to tackle are: how does irony become political? Can it build a community? How does it affirm the subject (e.g. in post-structuralism)? How does it provide a model of opposition to the status quo or, instead, how does it neutralise critique? How does it become an aesthetic principle and what are the strategies that this entails or, instead, how does it perform deaestheticisation? What kind of relation can the ironic and the tragic have? Are there historical moments that can be nominated “ironic” (e.g. post-modernity)? What are the post-ironic alternatives?

In this volume, Michele Cometa (University of Palermo) will address the theory of irony in Schlegel and Paul de Man, and its potential for culture analysis, Jorge Fazenda Lourenço (Catholic University of Portugal) will analyse irony’s political overtones in Jorge de Sena’s poetry and Philip Auslander (Georgia Institute of Technology) will discuss irony in the performative arts.

We invite contributions to be sent to the editors, Elsa Alves & Ana Dinger (irony2014@gmail.com), until the 1st of March 2015.