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GLITS Presents: Endgame(s)
Fri 9 June 2017, 10:00 – 17:00 BST
GLITS (Goldsmiths Literature Seminar) Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference
Date: June 9th 2017
Venue: Goldsmiths, University of London
Plenary Speaker: Professor Ivan Callus, University of Malta
We live in perilous times. Institutional decay, declining living standards, the collapse of social welfare, and potentially the end of liberal democracy all afflict our contemporary historical moment. Looming ecological and migratory issues transcend the limits of what we think and feel to be possible, threatening us in ways we are unable to imagine, let alone rationalise. Yet, there is a profound sense that every epoch has its own ‘endgame’; that every society recognises itself as itself in the vision of its own future demise. Endgames consequently populate the historical record, from the Millenarianism of the medieval world and the fin de siècle culture of Mitteleuropa, to the historical ends that the mythologies of Fascism and Stalinism sought to bring about, to anxieties of nuclear holocaust and the Y2K millennium bug and - more recently - Brexit. It seems that the apocalypse, by definition, must be repeatable. In 1925 T.S. Eliot captured appositely the sense of resultant disaffection and numbness – even frustration – this engenders: ‘This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.’
However, living in the end-times can also be exhilarating, even liberating. A German expression encapsulates this hedonism: ‘Tanz auf dem Vulkan [dancing on the volcano]’. The end-times – different from the mere knowledge of our individual mortality – can trigger an ecstatic sense of being, perhaps even a means to bridge the intersubjective gaps that lie between us and forge new collective possibilities. Thus, leading us to the imagining of termination for positive affect; bringing current socio-economic and political systems to their [il]logical conclusions; repurposing technology for socially beneficial and emancipatory ends.
This conference seeks to explore the way in which literature and narrative cultures order and represent visions of the end of the world and how this constitutes a pervasive influence on philosophy, political theory and popular culture. We invite papers that discuss ways of thinking and feeling in the end times, those of the past, present and, inevitably, those endgames still to be played out in the future.