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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

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1,200 expected for comparative literature conference, March 23-26

Some 1,200 scholars from across the nation and abroad will gather on campus Thursday through Sunday, March 23-26, for the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association.

It is expected to be one of the largest such conferences ever held at Princeton, with sessions taking place in Chancellor Green, East Pyne, the Scheide Caldwell House, McCosh Hall and Alexander Hall. The event will be hosted by the Department of Comparative Literature, along with other departments and programs in the humanities and the creative arts. Sandra Bermann, chair of Princeton's comparative literature department, is vice president of the national association.

Focusing on a central theme, "The Human and Its Others," the interdisciplinary conference will integrate the work of leading scholars in the humanities with talks, readings, film screenings and performances by creative artists. Participants will discuss issues affecting the definition of the human and the humanities, addressing questions such as: How does literature, along with the other creative arts, help define the human? How has the human been shaped by religion, politics, philosophy, science, economics, medicine and technology? Against what images, ideas, dreams and nightmares has the human been defined and refined? And why does it seem to be a particularly pertinent, if not pressing, concern today?

One of the conference highlights will be a panel discussion on "Literature and Human Rights" by Simon Gikandi of Princeton, Joseph Slaughter and Gayatri Spivak of Columbia University and Domna Stanton of the City University of New York, who is past president of the Modern Language Association. Pauline Yu, head of the American Council of Learned Societies, also is expected to attend.

The conference will include sessions led by many of Princeton's best-known artists: Toni Morrison will give the plenary address in dialogue with Valerie Smith; Joyce Carol Oates, C.K. Williams, Gabe Hudson and Susan Wheeler will read from their work; Paul Muldoon and Nigel Smith will present a concert with their rock band Rackett; and Su Friedrich, along with guest director Ruba Nadda, will lead film screenings.

Registration information and a schedule are available on the conference Web site. Members of the University community may register at no charge with a Princeton ID. Registration and book exhibits will be held in the Chancellor Green Rotunda.

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