Telepoetics 2020 Symposium

Country: United Kingdom

City: London

Abstr. due: 10.03.2020

Dates: 27.05.20 — 27.05.20

Area Of Sciences: Humanities; Arts;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: The Dana Library and Research Centre


From the ‘waves of sound, transmitted o’er the line’ in Jones Very’s ‘The Telephone’ (1877) to the ‘thin voice speak[ing] / from a drowning world’ in Imtiaz Dharker’s ‘Six Rings’ (2018), telephones have been calling in and across literary texts for almost one hundred and fifty years. But although considerable research on the smartphone has been undertaken in recent media and cultural studies, the relationship between telephony and literature remains largely neglected. In fact, as Nicholas Royle points out in Telepathy and Literature (1991), ‘really we have no idea what a telephone is, or what a voice is, or when or how. Least of all when it is linked up with the question of literature’. Taking the ‘question of literature’ as its starting point, this AHRC-funded symposium will address the telephone’s propensity to facilitate and mediate but also to interrupt communication on a local and global scale, as well the ways in which it taps into some of the most urgent concerns of the modern and contemporary age, including surveillance, mobility, resistance, power and warfare. Exploring its complex, multiple and mutating functions in literary texts from the nineteenth century to the present day, we will consider both historical and recent manifestations of the telephone, and its capacity to call across languages and cultures.

Celebrating the potential of the telephone to operate at the intersection between the literary, the critical, the personal and the political, we envisage a structure to the symposium that will facilitate a range of voices, conversations and modes of address: rather than keynote lectures, the day will consist of short 10-minute papers, variously ‘interrupted’ by creative and critical calls from invited speakers including Mara Mills (New York University), Eric Prenowitz (University of Leeds), Nicholas Royle (University of Sussex) and Will Self (Brunel University). Further speakers are to be confirmed.

We invite proposals for 10-minute critical and creative papers that explore the relationship between literature and telephony in a range of global contexts and from the nineteenth century to the present day. Topics might include (but are not limited to):

privacy and surveillance

communications warfare

mobility and globalization

technologies of desire

telephony as translation

textual interference, interruption or interception

lyric calling and texting

telephony and D/deaf experience

telephony and labour

ethics and answerability

voice and address

Conference Web-Site: