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Modes of Relative Certainty

Modes of Relative Certainty

This panel will explore areas of “relative certainty” in modernism, where the supposed impossibility of knowing anything for certain meets the practical reality that things can be known well enough that readers and citizens can make use of them. In the wake of postmodernist criticism’s essential disdain for certain knowledge and a general acceptance of modernists as ambiguous, ironic, enigmatical, interested in differance and lack, textual density and obscure allusions, we bring attention to the ways modernist texts celebrate positive knowledge--as contingent as that knowledge may be.

Although uncertainty will undoubtedly remain an important mode of reading modernist texts, and it may produce vital inquiry into the ways narrative meaning constructs our lives, we question the ways modernists actually worked to produce epistemological change. Could attention to relative certainty--quasi-, partial, functional, or temporary certainty--lead to more nuanced understandings of modernist texts? How might critical conversations benefit from a return to some sense of the value of certainty, a position that could serve as the basis for ethical, political, and social consensus? Is some certainty necessary for the construction of reading communities?

Areas of discussion might include scientific and cultural relativity; pragmatic and phenomenological perspectives on truth and reality; the persistence of mimetic representation; cultural, national, or racial relative certainty; gender categories and readability; anthropology; ethics; the relative certainty of modernist “grammars;” reading practices that lead to or presuppose common ground; and affect transmission.

Submit 300 word proposals with a one-page CV to luke.mueller@tufts.edu by April 5, 2015.

Conference Location: Boston, USA
Conference Starts: November 19, 2015
Conference Ends: November 22, 2015

CFP Submission Deadline: April 05, 2015

For more information, contact: Luke Mueller

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