11/21 Decolonial Surrealism - talk by Jonathan P. Eburne

The Comparative Literature Colloquium presents:

Jonathan P. Eburne
"Decolonial Surrealism"
Thursday, November 21
912 Sproul Hall

This presentation proposes to tell the story of surrealism during the period of decolonization (and neoliberal re-entrenchment) that extends roughly from the end of the second World War to the contemporary moment. In doing so, it will trace the overlapping but also discontinuous genealogies according to which anticolonial movements throughout the world—and in particular throughout the Global South—drew upon, rejected, and reinvented surrealist thinking. By approaching “surrealism” as an anticolonial movement, I aim to invert the common narrative according to which surrealism originated in Paris after WWI and “spread” to other countries, whether through the travels of individual European artists and writers, or through groups of second-order adherents. In place of a set o avant-garde techniques and adherents disseminated throughout the nether reaches of the colonial world, I explore the ways in which anticolonial thinkers throughout the Global South, particularly in the Americas and North Africa, have built Afro-Caribbean, tricontinental, pan-African, and otherwise trans-Oceanic networks of artistic and political activity through the medium of a surrealist movement rendered plastic through translation.

Jonathan P. Eburne is Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French and Francophone Studies at Penn State University and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Comparative Literature. He is editor-in-chief of the award-winning ASAP/Journal, the journal of ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, and author of Outsider Theory: Intellectual Histories of Unorthodox Ideas (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) and Surrealism and the Art of Crime (Cornell University Press, 2008), as well as co-editor of four additional books: The Year’s Work in Nerds, Wonks, and Neocons (with Benjamin Schreier; Indiana University Press, 2017); Leonora Carrington and the International Avant-Garde (with Catriona McAra; Manchester University Press, 2017); The Year’s Work in the Oddball Archive (with Judith Roof; Indiana University Press, 2016); and Paris, Modern Fiction, and the Black Atlantic (with Jeremy Braddock; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Eburne is the founder and acting President of ISSS: the International Society for the Study of Surrealism and was President of ASAP in 2014-2015. He is the series editor of the “Refiguring Modernism” book series at the Pennsylvania State University Press. He is currently working on a book entitled The Great Surrealist Bargain Basement.