As much an initiative as a conference, this international conference seeks to shine a light on the crucial dark matter of all modern art, namely undecidability.
Throughout the 20th century, the recognition as well as the idea of undecidability have challenged and irrevocably reshaped epistemological and ontological categories and changed the way the world is experienced and represented. The notion of undecidability has played a crucial role in science and technology, as both an object of ground-breaking discoveries and a driving force for new developments. Such innovations are part of a broad, general recognition of the incompleteness inherent in all seemingly consistent and complete systems and of the potential unresolvable ambiguity of (physical) phenomena, which also characterise the humanistic scientific fields of the 20th century, particularly in regards to accounts of the ‘system’ of language and of linguistic representation. The literature of the 20th century is similarly engaged with undecideability at a thematic level and formally characterised by it. Modernist literature not only reflects the new insights into undecidability in its historical context, it also launches its own experiments with undecidability and conjures its own perspectives on the (re)presentation and human experience of the world. This modernist ‘foregrounding’ of undecidability has had a radical, lasting effect on narrative, as it stills holds an essential position in contemporary narrative as perhaps the most significant criterion for credibility and authenticity in both fictional and nonfictional narrative across different media.
The concept of undecidability plays an outsize role in all modern art, yet has managed to evade academic description and analysis to a great degree. The conference seeks to remedy this lack of attention by bringing together significant researchers from various disciplines and institutions to address the question of undecidability in literature and literary theory.
Speakers include: Patrick ffrench (King's College, London), Christopher Fynsk (European Graduate School), Mette Hoeeg (King's College, London), Ian Maclachlan (Oxford), Julia Chi Yan Ng (Goldsmiths, London), Christopher Norris (Cardiff), Bruce Robbins (Columbia), Nicholas Royle (Sussex), Max Saunders (King's College, London), and Hannah Vinter (King's College, London).
We hope with this conference, hosted by the Centre for Modernist Literature and Culture and the Arts & Humanities Research Institute at King's College, London, to occasion a genuine watershed moment for literary theory, particularly the literary theory that deals with modernist and contemporary literature.
This event is open to all and free to attend but booking is required. Click the registration link to secure your place.
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This event is supported by the Centre for Modern Literature & Culture, Centre for Life-Writing Research and the Arts and Humanities Faculty at King’s College London.