“Fabrications of reality - Fabriques du réel”
Storytelling and fiction aren’t solely found in literature. Prevalent ideologies also tell us stories that determine and shift our perception of reality. At the same time, reality seems to have become more and more unreadable; supposedly objective sources of knowledge (such as pre-election polls) have become unreliable. There is, of course, no objective reality, only fabrications. More interesting is how our realities are fabricated, both in life and in literature. Authors have approached the fabrication of the text, or text as fabric, in a multitude of ways. Writers and scholars from François Rabelais to Michel Foucault have written extensively on ways of revealing and subverting the fabricated realities of dominant structures of power, through vastly different methodologies. Roland Barthes unraveled the idea of literature as a fixed and singular object, turning it into a landscape that could be entered and explored with his Mythologies and his extensive research on the text. At the same moment as the field of linguistics was opening up literary critique, and transforming varied forms of social discourse into “text,” concepts of reality began to incorporate and absorb notions from literature.
Thus, Daniel Chartier writes that every location is just as shaped by the experiential and phenomenological qualities of its inhabitants as by its physical characteristics, a unified strata of discourses (l’idée du lieu). Similarly, maps as texts confront us with this impossibility of knowing, of reading the world objectively or accurately, limited as they are by their creators’ knowledge, desires, and political alignments. Fictitious borders are invented, shaped by power, traced onto maps, and then applied to the world. For José Muñoz, “queer world-making, then, hinges on the possibility to map a world where one is allowed to cast pictures of utopia and to include such pictures in any map of the social” (Cruising Utopia). Muñoz argues that queerness is never yet arrived, but continually constructed as the “not yet.” In this sense, fabrication is the continual creation of utopian potential. How can literature develop these potentialities, whether by reflecting, distorting, or shaping (and being shaped) by our realities?
Discussions include: Autofiction, Bovarysme, Detective novel, Dandyisme, Fabrications of identity, Foucault and “énoncés” (acte de langage), Orientalism, Queer utopias, Utopian and dystopian texts, Reality as text, Sara Ahmed and the reading a text queerly/slantwise, Semiotics and mapped realities, Places as text/ Texts as places.
Conference Organizers: Iziar De Miguel, Sarah Yahyaoui, Oliver Sage.
art by James Romberger
Sponsored by The French Department, Henri Peyre French Institute, DSG.