Le défi de Caliban – Encounters and debate at ENS Paris

Le défi de Caliban. Pour une étude des définitions de l’espace artistique et littéraire du “sud” (Caliban’s Challenge. For a study of the definitions of the artistic and literary space of the “South”)

This encounter is organised by Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel and Roland Béhar at the École normale supérieure in Paris, on 18 and 19 January 2018.

With the participation of Paula Barreiro López, Nicola Brarda, Maureen Murphy, Diana Roig Sanz, Elodie Vaudry, Leon Wainwright and Blaise Wilfert-Portal, among others.

How can we define, today, an artistic or literary discourse specific to the South, whether American, African, Oceanian or Asian?

In the case of literature, the difficulty is increased by the fact that it is often expressed in one of the languages that are precisely rejected through the decolonization process. The debate has crystallized around a fictional figure, Caliban, a Shakespearean figure who opposes Ariel and Prospero in The Tempest, but whose declinations are not always compatible. On the side of the arts, especially modern and contemporary art, no cross-sectional survey has been done regarding the visual, as well as performative practices that produce a meaning for the South through artistic practice; in change, such iconological survey has been done for Africanity and seems obvious regarding the figure of the “anthropophagous”, for example. For the arts as well as for literature, critics and historians are beginning to perceive the contradictions of an approach that would integrate the “Souths” through a canon defined in the North, as well as the need for a specific study of diasporas within the proper study of the “Souths”, as well as the importance of marginal cultures within North Atlantic countries, often referred to as “south in the north”. Another issue is that of geographical division, which is, ultimately, the question of the scale at which the definition of a discursive space will be homogeneous. While addressing the stakes and limits of an artistic and literary discourse on “the South”, these meetings should permit to address the issue through the lens of creation.

The aim of the two days is to create an international think-tank on the issue of “South”, a small group of guests that can expand and diversify if the debates bear all the fruits we are looking for. Reflection will take place through an exchange of texts in which each speaker will present a concept or text that he/she considers important in his/her own research on the subject, followed by a discussion moderated by an interlocutor, the discussion being as important as the initial presentation.

See the full program: http://artlas.ens.fr/

Download the short program

With the support of L’Institut des Amériques, the Département d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts and the Département Litteratures et Langages de l’ENS, and the Artl@S Project (Labex Transfers).