CFP: Philosophy and Literature: In Search of Lost Synergy (October 16-17, Princeton U.)

DEADLINE: June 15, 2015


Philosophy and Literature: In Search of Lost Synergy
Princeton University, October 16-17, 2015
An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
Princeton University Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Mikhail Epstein,
Emory University and Durham University

Perhaps more than any other national literature, Russian literature has served as a surrogate and medium for philosophical inquiry.  In the Russian context, literature, art and politics have all served as a kind of laboratory for experimenting with some of the most important philosophical frameworks of the 19th and 20th centuries.  As our keynote speaker, Mikhail Epstein, has noted, “perhaps no other nation in the world has so totally surrendered its social, cultural, and economic life to the demands of philosophical concepts.”

“Philosophy and Literature: In Search of Lost Synergy” invites papers that investigate the contours and consequences of a historical position that marks itself as an intersection of the literary and philosophical.  The questions that arise from the specific character of the Russian cultural legacy are at once peculiar to Russia, and universal: is the artistic imagination detrimental to systematic thought, or is it a necessary correlative? Is the literary inherently philosophical? Is there a sort of lyricism embedded within the philosophical, and are there philosophies that inhere in the poetic? 

Drawing on the expertise of scholars in literary studies and philosophy, this interdisciplinary, two-day graduate student conference aims to re-examine questions and topics central to both, including:

· At what point and in what context can a literary text be considered “philosophical”?

· What are the overlaps and divergences between literary and philosophical “truth”?

· To what extent does literary criticism conform to—or depart from—the concerns of philosophy?

· How has the interrelationship between literature and philosophy evolved in the Russian context?

· What does the future hold for the relationship between Russian philosophy and literature, both institutionally and intellectually?

·      Is Russian culture (as philosophy departments in non-Russian universities are fond of claiming, and as some Russian thinkers themselves insist) inimical to the very concept of a systematic discipline of philosophy, at least as it has been known in the West since Plato?

Papers might focus on particular authors, texts, artworks, ideas, and/or debates. In keeping with the wide-ranging possibilities of this topic, we welcome proposals from graduate students working in all relevant sub-fields of Slavic Studies, such as literature, history, cultural studies, theater, film, art history, philosophy, and theology.

Conference Format

The goal of the conference is to provide graduate students with the chance to present their work to senior scholars in the field and to receive useful constructive feedback. All papers will be made available prior to the conference through the conference website. At the conference each presenter will be given 10-15 minutes to introduce their paper, followed by commentary by the panel discussant and open discussion.

Submission Details

Submit abstracts (300 words or less) to princeton.slavic.conference[at] Please include your CV, departmental affiliation, and the title of your proposed paper. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2015.

We will be able to provide travel subsidies for the conference presenters, as well as lodging for the nights of October 15 and 16.

Questions should be addressed to Victoria Juharyan and Alisa Ballard at princeton.slavic.conference[at]