CFP Jul 25, 2002

Approaching the Unapproachable: Beyond Representation (Kingston, Ontario, 14.-16.3.03)

Claire Sykes

Call for papers
Approaching the Unapproachable
An international, interdisciplinary bilingual conference

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, CANADA

March 14-16, 2003

This conference proposes to open the way for an interdisciplinary
discussion taking the following question as its starting point: In
our contemporary world which is first and foremost encountered by way
of pre-established forms of representation, how does one evoke or
address the unapproachable, that which defies or underlies

Disciplines we wish to engage include: anthropology, architecture,
aesthetics, art history, classical studies, computer science, film
and multi-media, history, linguistics, literature, medicine,
philosophy, psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology, visual arts.
Independent artists and writers are also encouraged to participate.

According to some, we are currently living in the age of visual
representation, that is, in a world where everything is a priori
accounted for by images. That which was previously put into words is
now, most commonly, first and foremost, transmitted visually. As a
result, we live according to a generalized image-repertoire. Thus,
according to Roland Barthes, the fact that only images exist, are
produced and are consumed "raises the ethical question: not that the
image is immoral, irreligious or diabolic, but because, when
generalized, it completely de-realizes the human world of conflicts
and desires, under the cover of illustrating it"; it creates a world
that is "without difference (indifferent), from which can rise, here
and there, only the cry of anarchisms, marginalisms, and

This is also true of non-visual forms of representation. Put
differently, then, while imposing a fragmented view of reality, the
various forms of representation which account for our everyday most
often abolish the imperceptible portion of reality. Incapable of
grasping the full reality of the present, they moreover tend to
efface its historical dimension. Indeed, to the questions "why?" and
"for how long?" such representations provide little or no answer.
Human experience as governed by pre-established forms of
representation is despoiled of specificity and nuance. Under the
spell of immediacy provided by contemporary forms of representation,
we forget that reality cannot be reduced to the tangible and apparent.

Taking the above diagnosis as its starting point, this conference
proposes to explore avenues which venture to address the obscured,
imperceptible facet of reality underlying the generalized repertoire
of representational forms and assumptions which constitute
contemporary reality, avenues seeking to change or remedy this

Abstracts should include: name, affiliation, title and outline of
proposed paper (max. 250 words)

Please e-mail or send submissions by September 15, 2002 to, Approaching the Unapproachable,
Department of French Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario,
CANADA K7L 3N6, Attention: Agnès Conacher and Catherine Dhavernas
(fax: 613-533-6522)


CFP: Approaching the Unapproachable: Beyond Representation (Kingston, Ontario, 14.-16.3.03). In:, Jul 25, 2002 (accessed Feb 7, 2023), <>.