New Perspectives on the Paragone (CFP 2015/2016)

CFP:  New Perspectives on the Paragone at the 21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association in Vienna 2016

Organizer(s): Thoss, Jeff (Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany); Mathieson, Jolene (Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

“Beethoven, Raphael, cannot reach / The charm which Homer, Shakespeare, teach,” concludes Matthew Arnold in his “Epilogue to Lessing’s Laocoön” (1867), yet the rivalry between the arts, the paragone, has never been settled as neatly as Arnold’s couplet suggests. Broadly speaking, the paragone has been broached by at least three distinct yet related critical traditions. To art historians, it primarily refers to a debate in the Italian Renaissance that, in a first step, sought to put the visual arts on equal footing with poetry and music and, in a second step, determine the respective merits of painting and sculpture. To scholars of ekphrasis, emblems and similar phenomena, the paragone denotes a perennial struggle between words and images that permeates Western cultural history. Finally, media theorists frequently resort to notions of competition in order to describe our shifting contemporary media landscape – whether they label this as a paragone or not. Literary critics have, to a greater or lesser extent, taken part in all three discussions, yet the paragone is hardly in common parlance in our discipline and its specific manifestations in literary texts and literary history remain to be closely studied in many cases. Our group section proposes to (re-)examine the role and place of literature in the three interconnected fields mentioned, focusing in particular upon question such as: At which points in literary history is the paragone especially conspicuous? Which arts does literature engage in a rivalry with at which times? Which devices and strategies do texts employ to display their superiority? What influence have the various paragone theorists (from Alberti and da Vinci to Bolter and Grusin) had upon writers? Is the paragone a basic condition of the arts or a temporally limited phenomenon? What function(s) does the rivalry between the arts serve?

Guidelines: All abstracts need to be submitted via the ICLA conference website by the 31st of August 2015. Papers can be held in English or German. The sequence number and title of our panel is 16881 – New Perspectives on the Paragone: