Call for Papers

Sense and the Senses
April 6-8, 2017
Indiana University - Bloomington

(français)  At a time when the question of emotions has returned to the heart of critical inquiry, reflection on a fundamental relation of artistic activity is in order: activity that links sensation to interpretation, the sensory to the signifier, the senses to meaning—in other words, the esthetic relation. If perception is the basis of our experience, nourishing and shaping our cognitive activity, we must also consider the supporting structures that mediate our senses. Thus, our relationship to the world, its apprehension by our senses, is also conditioned by the transformation, the diffusion and the organization operated by technical systems (writing, printing, graphic imaging, audiovisual recording, digitalization, etc.). Furthermore, such experience takes on particular meaning when we consider the processes of production, which put into play cultural recyclings (Moser): if it’s necessary to have read to be able to write, to have seen to be able to paint or sculpt, any form of production of meani ng is first and foremost a matter of direct or mediated perception. We are thus at the heart of the relation between sensation and interpretation. From involuntary memory (Proust) to “mise en abyme” (Gide), from “tropisms” (Sarraute) to “the infra-ordinary” (Perec), from the storyteller’s breath (Kourouma) to the gesturing “marker of speech” (Chamoiseau), artistic forms emerge within the interval between sensation and its meaningful configuration. The poetic idea becomes visible in Apollinaire’s calligrammes, is heard in the cry (Césaire, Senghor), and is produced by the montage (René Clair) as these act upon perceived reality to give it a complete and compelling form. This colloquium proposes to envisage the arts as privileged spaces of the multiple and fleeting articulation of—but also the numerous tensions and frictions between—the sensate apprehension of the world and its intelligible comprehension.

Guest Speakers: Patrick Chamoiseau, Philippe Falardeau, Nathalie Heinich

Proposals are invited from the fields of literatures in French; literary theory; cultural, gender and postcolonial studies; translation; the arts, such as music, cinema and photography. In addition to individual proposals, those for complete sessions are strongly encouraged.
Possible but not restrictive axes of reflection:

  • Art/Techniques/Media
  • Materiality (of the book, the celluloid film)/Abstraction (of the text, of forms)
  • Historicity/Formalism
  • Inspiration/Reception/Cultural Recycling
  • Négritude/Creolization
  • Storytellers/Commentators/Writers
  • Grain of the Voice/Grain of the Text
  • Style/Manner


Please contact Professor Oana Panaïté with questions at

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