The final conference schedule is now available. Please download it here.
Literary history is full of forgetting—both forced and natural. Manuscripts and books have been forgotten as a result of conquest, language changes, and politics. Other texts have been forgotten due to their physical condition: sole manuscripts are hidden away in archives, libraries burn, and paper disintegrates. Many medieval texts that are now central to the English literary canon, such as Beowulf, Piers Plowman, and the Book of Margery Kempe, were virtually unknown until the nineteenth, or even twentieth, centuries. Later texts, from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, have been forgotten due to changes in taste, to their originally ephemeral nature, or to the sheer quantity of works that were published. As Franco Moretti writes in “The Slaughterhouse of Literature,” “The majority of books disappear forever—and ‘majority’ actually misses the point: if we set today’s canon of nineteenth-century British novels at two hundred titles (which is a very high figure), they would still be only about 0.5 per cent of all published novels. . . . But . . . how can we [know twenty thousand novels]? What does ‘knowledge’ mean in this scenario?” (64–65, 66).
In this conference, we will investigate how the process of forgetting and remembering literary texts impacts cultural memory (at the local, national, and globalized level). We welcome papers that are descriptive: these papers may make a claim about how the process of forgetting and remembering a text has worked in a particular time or place, or they may describe the significance of still-forgotten genres and texts to literary history. We also welcome papers that are prescriptive: how can and should scholars or general readers approach once-forgotten or still-little known (or even unknowable) texts? How should these texts be understood and contextualized?
While most papers given at this conference will address literatures in English, and we hope to have several panels on texts from the medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century, Romantic, Victorian, and twentieth- and twenty-first century periods, we also welcome papers (in English) from scholars working on non-English texts, either Eastern or Western. As our conference is in Taipei, Taiwan, we particularly hope to organize several panels that address the forgetting and remembering of texts in interactions between the East and the West.