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Texts in performance
International Symposium
Geneva, 27-29.11.2003


Literary studies have renewed their critical and theoretical language for twenty years in order to question the status of writings and texts from an factual perspective: dynamics, processes, diachronia, genesis, variants, hypertextuality, mobility, generativity, flows, illimitation...

These concepts seek to question the fixed, defined and definitive status of texts among which 19th century works witness the most intense instances of monumentalization: by the intertwined workings of philology, publishing and literary history, works have gained the stability of their inscription, institutions have constructed and instructed the consecration of classics and anthologies have enabled their promotion and distribution.

Ideally confined to pure abstraction and detached from its text (text only), the work of literature can be read today as a function of the fluctuations of its genesis, of the dynamics of its demonstration, of the concrete density of its implementation, and of the event of its performance.

This revision draws considerably on modern and contemporary artistic innovation that has introduced or reactivated in the literary and poetic fields the improvisation of happening, the corporeal and plastic expression of dramatic arts, and the modularity of information systems.

Under the banner title of "texts in performance", the CeRNET invites theorists, critics and text practitioners to reflect on the contemporary mobilization of writing, amidst the traces of its project (drafts, sketches, forewords, and other listings) as well as its recordings and inscription. This very mobilization opens new spaces of manifestation and exhibition/exposition.

Several tasks are to be considered on the research agenda:

  1. First and foremost, to analyze the ways in which authors, critics and theorists have come to reconsider the fixedness of the writing, and to reinfuse dynamics in it.
  2. To map out the different implementation means by which literary texts are transformed into events in order to subject them to critique.
  3. Finally, to assess their consequences on key concepts such as "identity" or "borders" of the literary work.

Key Words:

Areas of research:

Various 20th century text experiments represent the first research area in the colloquium.

At the same time, the history of literary production evinces how medieval works, for instance, already moved the text away from the locus where literary traditions relegated it. Further, the study of text reception shows to what extent any literary work is subject to multiple readings that problematize its status as a text.

The CeRNET invites you to submit propositions for presentations that address these novel text spaces from various perspectives, such as literary creation, history, critique and theory.


Abstracts of about 250 words written in English or in French should reach the organizers by March 31, 2003.

The final colloquium program will be established by May 17, 2003. Participants whose abstract is accepted will be notified by that date.

The colloquium will be held in French and English. Presentations in English should also include an abstract in French.



University of Geneva (Switzerland)


Prof. Laurent JENNY, University of Geneva


Ambroise BARRAS and Eric EIGENMANN,
Dpt de Francais moderne
3, place de l'Université
CH - 1211 Geneva 4
fax: +41 22 379 7305