chris krauss conference, call for papers

The Critical Writing in Art & Design programme at the Royal College of Art is pleased to announce the first conference on the work of the American writer Chris Kraus, to take place in London on 13-14 March 2013. Alongside presentations of new interpretations of Kraus’s work, the conference will include a reading by the author of some of her writings, an on-stage interview and screening of her films.

We are interested in receiving proposals for both academic and non-academic papers on any aspect of Chris Kraus’s work, or the themes with which it engages, as well as performative/multimedia responses to her work. We are particularly interested in the following areas:

• Kraus as novelist: Papers that specifically address aspects of Kraus’s novels I Love Dick, Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Summer of Hate.

• Kraus as intellectual historian: Kraus’s writing blurs traditional delineations of “fiction” and “nonfiction,” eliciting portraits of such seminal figures as Sylvere Lotringer, Félix Guattari, Simone Weil, Nan Goldin, and William Bronk, to name but a few. Alternately, one might suggest that Kraus uses her work to validate gossip as a serious artistic practice, aligning her endeavor with that of a number of queer and feminist practitioners such as Vaginal Davis, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Dodie Bellamy.

• Kraus as post-feminist philosopher: As Eileen Myles wrote about I Love Dick, "Chris's ultimate achievement is philosophical. She's turned female abjection inside out and aimed it at a man. As if her decades of experience were both a painting and a weapon. As if she, a hag, a kike, a poet, a failed filmmaker, a former go-go dancer—an intellectual, a wife, as if she had the right to go right up to the end of the book and live having felt all that. I Love Dick boldly suggests that Chris Kraus's unswervingly attempted and felt female life is a total work and it didn't kill her."

• Kraus as critic: Papers that explore Kraus’s engagement with the contemporary art world, including the art-critical aspects embedded in her fiction. We are also interested in papers that contextualize Kraus as one of the chief proponents of the emerging field of critico-fiction (alongside such figures as Lynne Tillman, Brian Dillon, Maria Fusco, Tom McCarthy, and Eileen Myles.)

• Kraus as editrix: While Semiotext(e) is widely acknowledged for having introduced “French theory” into American academia in the 1980s, Kraus’s “Native Agents” series, which proposed a parallel trajectory of radical fiction writing, has seldom been considered. We are interested in critical and historical accounts of Semiotext(e) that focus on Kraus’s ongoing contribution to the project.

• Kraus as filmmaker: In Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus presents a somewhat brutal self-assessment of her previous career as a failed filmmaker. If anything, her early film work failed to find a major audience. In recent years, however, as a result of her success as a writer, a revival of interest in her films has been spawned, with major screenings in New York and Los Angeles. Now is the time for a critical reckoning of Kraus’s films, which can potentially be posited within the dialectics of failure.

Please submit a 300 word proposal and short biographical statement to cwad@network.rca.ac.uk. If you plan to present your work in a performative / multimedia format, please indicate the nature of any equipment required. The deadline for proposals is 15 January. Invitations to participate will be made at the end of January. The organizers of this symposium are not able to support the travel or accommodation costs of participation.