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Suggested Topics

Below we offer a selection of possible topics, though we will also be pleased to accept proposals in other related areas.

1) Past – Present – Future. Between Innovation and Repetition. 

How have genetic studies changed over the decades? What have been the major stages and turning points in their development?

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the early French critique génétique was an inspiring and refreshing development. It arose partly as a critical response to structuralism, which, at least in its classic and orthodox form, was then losing momentum. The new-born discipline reopened and shattered the seemingly “closed” and “fixed” textual structure. The perception of the text as a “stable unity of elements” was then replaced by a vision of an “action in progress”. Today, almost fifty years later (in the wake of deconstruction, in the era of late post-structuralism), the concept of a “stable”, “closed” and “fixed” text no longer needs to be challenged. So what (if anything) keeps genetic criticism alive in 2019? Where (if anywhere) does genetic criticism confront contemporary perspectives, issues and debates? Has genetic criticism retained its potential to provide a fresh outlook and define attractive approaches to literature and art?

The legacy of genetic studies, especially in France, is very rich and heterogeneous, as a wide range of methodological tools have been used by genetic scholars in recent decades (i.e. psychoanalysis, thematic criticism, semiotics, poetics, socio-cultural analysis). At the same time, many new territories have been annexed by genetic thinking (i.e. autobiography, philosophical writings, theatre, music). Does this mean that genetic criticism has already exhausted all its potential? Could a truly innovative concept still be developed by genetic scholars, and a new methodology implemented by genetic studies? Is there an original genetic book that has yet to be written? Is there any manifestation of human creativity that still remains unexplored from a genetic perspective? Perhaps we simply no longer need another innovative “turn” or radically new “perspective” to produce fully satisfying genetic research. Perhaps we might simply continue to follow the beaten paths of genetic criticism, analyzing literary works whose drafts have not yet been examined and exploring archives where genetic scholars have not yet set foot.

2) Philosophical, Anthropological and Theoretical Issues 

“The trace” and “the trail” are the crucial metaphors in genetic discourse (for example: “the draft as a trace or trail of the creative process”). At the same time, the notion of “the trace” is a subject of intense philosophical reflection in the work of such thinkers as Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, Vattimo, Nancy, and Agamben. What is (and what could be) the connection between genetic criticism and this line of thought?

Is there space in genetic thinking for other relevant and influential notions from the contemporary humanities (e.g. “body”, “memory”, “trauma”, “affect”)?

What is the significance (or significances) of the notions of “author”, “intention” and “mind” in genetic thinking?

3) Critique Génétique and Other Traditions

The French critique génétique is undisputedly the most sophisticated scholarly tradition to focus on the dynamics of creation, but it is not the only one. What other “schools” should be mentioned here? What sensitivity to the “work in progress” is offered by Russian formalism? What is characteristic and unique in the Italian “critica delle varianti”? How has the notion of process been conceptualized by German philologists? What has been the echo of genetic studies in English-speaking countries? What could be said about the genetic approach to different fields of human creativity outside Europe? The above list of questions is not exhaustive.

In various literary traditions of the 20th and 21st centuries (or earlier), we come across great writers and artists claiming that not only the result, but also the very process of creation can be fascinating and deserves attention. Alongside Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Poe, Valery, Rodin and Ponge, what other names (possibly from outside the Western tradition) may be added to the list of loose advocates of genetic criticism?

In the 1990s, Graham Falconer coined the term “comparative genetic criticism”. This approach would compare not complete works written in different languages, but rather ways of writing in different languages. To what extent has this project been implemented in recent years? Does Falconer’s proposal carry the potential for further realization? Can genetic criticism work as a comparative field?    


4) Genetic Criticism in Practice  

We welcome papers presenting “genetic criticism in action”, demonstrating the potential (but also the limitations) of genetic studies in such fields as literature, theatre, cinema, film, music, architecture, painting and sculpture, the study of political documents (e.g. final versions and drafts of important legal acts), philosophical writings, etc.

Translation and the history of translation are fields of research where genetic criticism may prove especially significant and helpful. We welcome papers discussing the role of the archive in opening a window on the creative process of literary translation. How could the study of translators’ archives inform our view of the significance of translation as part of a literary oeuvre? Does it shed light on the critical language and methodology of translation studies? What is the potential role of genetic criticism in the area of translation history? What are the possible lines of development in (literary) translation research from a genetic perspective?

All these questions bear special significance for the scholars working at the Centre for Translation Studies at the Jagiellonian University.

The Centre for Avant-Garde Studies at the Jagiellonian University welcomes papers combining genetic perspectives with reflections on the history of European avant-garde movements.

Papers whose authors attempt to apply different methodological tools to genetic studies are most welcome. These may include intertextual studies, psychoanalysis, semiotics, sociocultural orientation, gender, queer, ethnic, race studies, etc.              

The Organizing Committee welcomes papers focused on specific aspects of the creative process, such as the materiality of a draft, the iconic features of a literary draft, the collaborative nature of creative activity, political censorship as a factor relevant to genetic criticism, the so-called “après-texte”, the digital nature of contemporary creative processes, etc.

5) Digital Genetic Editing

Papers about the theory and practice of genetic editing are also welcome.