ACS Conference 2022

Nomadic texts and subjectivities: Metamorphic itineraries in/of Angela Carters’ works

University of Angers, France
22-24 June 2022

“The nomad has a territory; he follows customary paths; […] A path is always between two points, but the in-between has taken all the consistency and enjoys both an autonomy and a direction of its own. The life of the nomad is the intermezzo.” (Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 380)

“If the writer is a sorcerer, it is because writing is a becoming…” (A Thousand Plateaus, 240)

“I’ve never believed that the self is like a mythical beast which has to be trapped and returned, so that you can become whole again. I’m talking about the negotiations we have to make to discover any kind of reality” (Angela Carter, in Edmund Gordon, xiii).

This international conference under the aegis of the Angela Carter Society sets to explore the metamorphic itineraries of characters, genres, genders, philosophies, texts, and images (paintings, films, photos, postcards) in Carter’s fictional and non-fictional works as well as their creative reception and dissemination by twenty-first century writers and artists. Lorna Sage has already underlined Carter’s itinerant subjectivity: “[…] the role-playing and the shape-shifting, the travels, the choice of a man much younger than her, the baby in her forties –is the story of someone walking a tightrope. It is all happening on the ‘edge’, in no man’s land, among the debris left by past conventions.” This life on the edge, in between, is a metaphor of an essential mobility that inscribes the author, her characters, and her texts in a nomadic logic, where “the in-between has taken all the consistency and enjoys both an autonomy and a direction of its own” (Deleuze, 380).

The physical or mental journeys of Carter’s characters often run parallel to trajectories of awareness informed by gender, race, class, human and posthuman issues. Dressing up, role-playing, and shapeshifting, like metaphoric journeys in the picaresque tradition, are both thematic and structural features of Carter’s work. They bear witness to the character’s boundless self-invention and the continuous becoming subject: “Becoming is a verb with a consistency all its own: it does not reduce to or lead back to, “appearing,” “being,” “equalling,” or “producing”” (Deleuze, 239). Becoming is the flux, the journey minus the destination. Through the study of the metamorphic itineraries of hybrid, fluid, mobile and problematic identities, contributors are invited to map out the manifestations of nomadic subjectivities in Carter’s work and the politics of becoming that underly their trajectories.

The conference will also be an opportunity to study the journey (and sometimes the trials and tribulations) of a rich cultural heritage into Carter’s work. Carter herself declares: “I feel free to loot and rummage in an official past, specifically a literary past, but I like painting and sculpture and the movies and folklore and heresies, too (“NFFL”, SL 41). The access to Carter’s journals, letters and notebooks in the Angela Carter’s Archives provides a precious source to explore her negotiation with Western philosophers, novelists, poets, playwrights, literary critics, painters, film producers etc., and to map out the metamorphic itineraries of this heritage

in her work, by tracing lines of tension, lines of flight, dialogues, collusions, subversions, deconstructions and all the strategies that inscribe in her work a nomadic logic. While the formal aspect is important, it is inextricably connected to a politics of nomadism that Deleuze identifies as a “war machine” whose mobility, fluidity, and exteriority makes it at the antipode of the law, of the fixed conventions and rules, or what Deleuze calls the “state apparatus”. In other words, nomadism through its decentralizing metamorphic itineraries becomes essential to the boundless inventions of subjectivities and texts to which Carter’s work bears a witness.

The conference will also pay tribute to Carter’s legacy by analysing how Carter’s texts continue their nomadic journeys through the works of contemporary artists, screenwriters, novelists, painters, sculptors, literary critics, fan fiction and other media usages. (Charlotte Crofts, Lucy Wood, Helen Simpson, Ali Smith, Margo Lanagan, Rikki Ducornet, Kate Atkinson, Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters, https://lithub.com/50-fascinating-works-of-angela-carter-fan-art/).

Contributions could address, but are not limited to, one of the following areas:

· Metamorphic subjectivities / bodies: the grotesque, the hybrid, the double, the transhuman, the vampire, the queer, liminal figures, the doll, the tattooed body, etc.

· Textual nomadism/ epistemic metamorphosis: the journey of theory into fiction (Foucault, Barthes, Rousseau, Strauss, Lacan, Xaviere Gauthier, etc.).

· Enunciative metamorphosis: the becoming of the feminist /gendered voice.

· Metamorphosis of narrative conventions and genres (fairy tales, the picaresque, the gothic etc.). Given the long tradition of research on short stories and short forms at the University of Angers since the founding of Journal of the Short Story in English in 1983, proposals about short stories or short forms are particularly welcome.

· Metamorphosis of facts, history, and geography in her work: the representation of Japan, USA, Bristol, bohemian Bristol, countercultural figures, Poe, Baudelaire, Lizzie Borden, Colette etc., the journey from fiction to facts and from facts to fiction in her autobiographical writings.

· Metamorphosis of Angela Carter: How successful are critics and biographers in their effort to avoid inventing Angela Carter?

· Nomadic spaces: theatre, carnival, circus, etc.

· Metamorphosis of the authorial figure: Lorna Sage: “she went on for the proliferation rather than the death of the author”. (1994)

· Mediated texts which were initially destined to travel through media: radio plays, films, documentaries. See how the metamorphosis/the nomadic principle is inscribed in the text through principles of intermediality. How important is the nomadic texture in the success of the journey over media?

· Nomadic itineraries of original manuscripts and variants.

Knowing that Carter used to spend her holidays in France, French culture found its way into her works. Contributions about the metamorphosis of French culture in Carter’s work are particularly welcome. Angers is also the ideal destination for scholarly nomads who wish to explore Carter’s works against the backdrop of fine wine, castles, and a lush natural setting.

Guest speakers

Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)

Anna Kérchy (University of Szeged, Hungary)

Proposals of 300 words in English should be sent to michelle.ryan-sautour@univ-angers.fr and karima.thomas@univ-angers.fr before September 21st, 2021.

Registration fees

80 € for participants; 30 € for Ph.D. students.

Registration fees include all meals and cultural events except the banquet.

Contribution to the banquet: 30 €

Conference web page: http://cirpall.univ-angers.fr/fr/actualites/colloques/colloque-nomadic-texts-and-subjectivities.html