Cannibal Modernisms conference

Cannibal Modernisms

King’s College London Programme in Comparative Literature Annual Graduate Conference,  7th-8th November, 2013.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Xudong Zhang, Professor of East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, New York University.

"Politics of the Flesh:  The Animal in Redefining the Human in Modern Chinese Literature and Ideology"

 Cannibal Modernisms will be two-day conference exploring the metaphorical implications of cannibalism in relation to literature. Taking as a starting point  poet and polemicist Oswald de Andrade’s Manifesto Antropófago (1928), which uses the metaphor of cannibalism to describe Brazilian artists’ capacity to absorb and reconstruct a dominant European culture, we will expand the scope to encompass a wider investigation of cannibalism as a metaphor for literary practices. Literature as form is one that thrives on autophagy as a means of regeneration; in fact, we could say that literature has always had the capacity to imbibe, reinvent and “make new” even before the advent of modernism codified these terms in ways now familiar. Thinking about literature, and by extension, critique, through the lens of these cannibalistic tendencies offers an array of possible approaches, ranging from literary, artistic, or theoretical cannibalism as a strategy of political resistance, recuperation,devouring genres, the text as Corpus, textual mutilation, regurgitation and plagiarism, book materiality and decay, mimicry, “trash” theory,  immanent or absorbed readings, self-erasure and anonymity, allegories of the human, the post-human and trans-human conditions, and frontiers between self and other.  Conference details will be updated on

Registration: Please send an email to confirm a place on both or either days by October 31st, 2013. There is no charge to attend. 

Keynote Speaker: Xudong Zhang

It is with great pleasure that we announce our keynote speaker, Professor Xudong Zhang, Professor of East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University, where he is also Chair of the Department of East Asian Studies. Xudong Zhang’s teaching and research focuses on modernism and modernity within and beyond the Chinese context. He is author of several books, including: Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction, and New Chinese Cinema; and Postsocialism and Cultural Politics: The Last Decade of China’s Twentieth Century. He has also edited Whither China? Intellectual Politics in Contemporary China. and co-edited (with Arif Dirlik) Postmodernism and China.  In Chinese, he is the author of The Order of the Imaginary: Critical Theory and Modern Chinese Literary Discourse, Traces of Criticism: Essays on Theory and Cultural Politics and Cultural Identity in the Age of Globalization: A Historical Rethinking of Western Discourses on Universalism.  He has translated into Chinese Walter Benjamin’s Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism; co-translated (with Ban Wang), Illuminations, and edited The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism: Selected Essays of Fredric Jameson. Professor Zhang’s visit to King’s College is kindly sponsored by the Lau China Institute at King’s College London.


Thursday, 7th November, 2013; Virginia Woolf Building 6.01

12.30pm – 1.20pm Registration and Lunch (provided) 

1.20pm Welcome

1.30pm – 3.00pm

Panel 1: A Recipe for the Modern: Constructing Modernities  

Veronica Frigeni (Kent), Between redemption and justice: Walter Benjamin’s parasitical modernity

Jennifer Dorothy Lee (NYU), Cannibalizing Beauty: Gu Cheng’s Bildung and the New Poetry in 1980s China

Mary Horgan (KCL), Money Made New: Ali Smith’s Cannibalistic, Numismatic Modernism

3.00pm – 3.15pm Coffee Break

3.15pm – 4.45pm

Panel 2: Cooking the Books: Cannibalistic Creative Strategies

Teodor-George Borz (Edinburgh), Deconstruction as a Practice of Sparagmos

Mario Semiao (ULICES/Dalarna), ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal’: On the Pictorial Cannibalism of Gabriel Josipovici

Patricia Silva McNeill (QMU/CES Coimbra): Brazilian Modernism as Alternative Modernism: a Case Study in Modernism as a Transcultural Phenomenon

Friday, 8th November, 2013; River Room, Strand Campus

9.00am – 9.45am Breakfast and Registration

9.45am – 11.15am

Panel 2: Phagic Frontiers: Boundaries Between Subject and Object

Tiffany Yun-Chu Tsai (Irvine), The Melancholic Consumption of the Object: Cannibalism in Republic of Wine

Mahruba Mowtushi (KCL), Textual Cannibalization: Early 20th century Bengali adventure fiction of Hemendrakumar Roy and Bibhutibhusan Banerjee.

Jimmy Packham (Bristol), Cannibal lector: Herman Melville and Cannibalistic Inscriptions

 11.15am – 11.30pm Coffee Break 

11.30am – 1.00pm

Panel 2: Self-Determination or Self- Destruction?-(Re)Imagining National/Cultural Identity

Olayinka Agbetui Fifl (Indiana), Osirism: Self Erasure and Reassemblage in Christopher Okigbo’s ‘Labyrinths’

Todd Foley (NYU), Cannibal Cats: Animality and National Salvation in Lao She’s Cat Country

Stewart Sanderson (Glasgow), Cultural Cannibalism and the Modern Scottish Renaissance 

1.00pm – 1.45pm Break

1.45pm – 3.15pm 

Panel 3: Sick to the teeth: Cannibalistic Forms of Resistance and Rejection

Mason Golden, Catastrophe and Betrayal in Heiner Müller and Bertolt Brecht

Sasha Panaram (Duke), Underground Men: Spatial and Racial Intersections in Invisible Man and ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’

Julian Suddaby (NYU), (In)digesting the English: Lao She’s ‘Little Po’s Birthday’ and the malabsorption of a literary mode

3.15pm – 3.30pm Coffee Break

3.30pm – 5pm

Panel 4: The Purgation of the Self: Literary Auto-Erasure 

James Bainbridge (Liverpool), ‘The bird, the fox, the quarry, the kill’: self-erasure and anonymity in the works of A.S.J. Tessimond

Tom Geue (Trinity, Oxford), Starving the author: cannibalism and self-erasure in Juvenal, Satire 15

Peter Jones (NYU), John of Salisbury’s Nugifluus and the Culture of Laughter at the Court of Henry II

5pm – 6.30pm Keynote Lecture, JKTL Nash Theatre

Prof. Xudong Zhang (NYU), Politics of the Flesh:  The Animal in Redefining the Human in Modern Chinese Literature and Ideology

6.30pm – 7.30pm Wine Reception, River Room