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Creating Characters, Inventing Lives: The Art of the Self, 1st International Symposium

May 21, 2013

1st International Symposium: Creating Characters, Inventing Lives: The Art of the Self

Part of the Research Program on: Aesthetic Lives, Artistic Selves

International Network for Alternative Academia – Extends a general invitation to participate

Web address:

Tuesday 21st to Thursday 23rd of May, 2013

Institutional Partner: Humber ITAL
Venue: Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Lakeshore Campus (Building: Lakeshore Commons)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Call for Papers

This trans-disciplinary research project is interested in exploring the lessons we can derive from the creative process and identify how productive it is beyond the boundaries of the work and creation itself.

Regardless of our awareness, our understanding of our selves, we have always been the product of creation – the result of the playful and subversive blurring of the boundaries between fiction and life, between self and other, between fantasy and reality. Who we are – how we tell the story of our lives – has always traversed the divides between artistic invention, personal reflection and historic fact; being as much the product of the creative process as the characters depicted by artists in their works. Yet, we have been resistant to this notion holding fast to the idea that the bonds between us are intransigent, that the self is impermeable to transformation, clinging to the idea of authenticity. New models of the self are necessitated — models that emphasize the creative and transformative process by which the self is created. This project locates this search at the intersection of artistic invention and theoretical reflection. What can we learn fr! om the creation of characters about our sense of the real, the construction of self and our bonds with others? In what ways do these processes overlap? How do they diverge?

We invite colleagues from all disciplines and professions interested in exploring and explaining these issues in a collective, deliberative and dialogical environment to send presentation proposals that address these general questions or the following themes:

1. Boundary Playfulness (or Playing with Boundaries): Fiction and The Real

– Why do we create: to become, to be, to reveal, to conceive of our lives differently, to compensate what we do not have but want dearly, to conceal our flaws, to work through our weaknesses, to rediscover and, perhaps even, reinvent our selves and the bonds we have with others, to live a life we do not have and will never have?
– How do boundaries of life, context, intimacy and identity change in the act of creating and the emergence of a creation?
– Should we care about boundary modifications and movements between fiction and the real? Does it matter if one dimension seeps into the other?
– Where do the boundaries between fiction and reality stand? Do these still hold and how can one conceive, today, of these boundaries?
– How are notions of the real affected by the creation of characters, by the creation of other realities or the mimicry of the real, by the multiplication of what becomes fiction and reality?
– What is left of the identity of the creator after the process of creation? Is there a transference of both meaning and the site of recognition from the person to the creative work? How is identity modified and transformed?
– Is fiction (sometimes) more real than what we call reality? How does that happen and what can we learn from those unique experiences?

2. Life and Biography: Always Present

– Do I create because in the act of creating I would love or hope to become? Is it the fear of nothingness that moves me to create?
– Can we create without letting self and biography seep in or bluntly take over? Is this really a problem?
– How does the act of creating characters become an act of reflecting self and biography? Can this be different?
– Does the self become exposed, explored, consolidated and enhanced in and with the act of creating?
– Is creating therapeutically legitimate or a hoax for psychological therapy?
– What is autobiography? What is autobiographical creation? Is it the transference of identity from body to creation or the act of creating a new self? How does an author and artist relate to his/her autobiography or autobiographical work?
– How does the creative work itself constitute an experience of estrangement from the author and artist? Does the work become a haven offering protection from the world? Does it estrange the creator once it becomes independent, dislocated from the author or artist?

3. Authorship, Authenticity and Authority

– Don’t we all borrow from each other, from the long and deep traditions, from the canonical, from the new and yet to be acknowledged?
– Should we abandon tropes of the authentic and authenticity? Should we redefine what we mean today by authenticity? What meaning might it carry currently for the process of creation and in the creative work?
– How do power relations play into the notion of the authentic and authorship?
– Do creators and artists really know what effect their work will have? Should we call this pursuit off?
– Why do we still believe that the author, creator, artist has to have the last word on the meaning of their work, of their creation? Is there any legitimacy in this idea or claim?
– Is not meaning born by way and through the dialogue that happens with an audience, reader, listener, observer, interpreter, consumer of the creative piece and work?
– Can we live with a world of meaning unhinged from the author’s intention and actions?
– How is the new media altering, in significant ways, the creative process? How is it redefining the meaning of “creator”? How are the boundaries between the creator and the created being redefined?
– What effects does new media have over the creative bond between writer and reader, playwright and audience, painter and gallery visitor, filmmaker and cinema or video audience, music composer and listener, creator and consumer?
– How has electronic media transformed notions of the authentic and unique?

4. Success and Failure: A History of Recognition?

– In the world of historic value, why is death the best event for recognition? How can we reverse the set of principles that go into recognizing the greatness of authors and creators once they cannot speak, they cannot talk back?
– Is there any virtue in changing or reversing that logic: recognition in life?
– How are links made between recognition and success?
– What are the measures of success and how do these relate to recognition? Are these measures good for the recognition of creators and creative work; for fostering creators?
– How does the artist, the author, the creator understand perfection? What are the perversions of ideas and myths linked to perfection?
– Is there a perfect creation? Is there perfection in the creative process?
– What is the place of failure and the fear of failure in today’s creative process?
– What is an author prepared to do in order to achieve success? Would these be the same in order to obtain recognition?
– How much does recognition and success impact the creative process? Has this changed over time and through history?
– Is it possible to argue that both recognition and success are and have always been substantive parts and endless motivators for the creative process? What about failure and the fear of failure?

5. Myths of Creation

– How has inspiration survived the pass of time and history? How much do we still believe or hold on to notions of inspiration? What are the current ideas that circulate and inhabit creators’ minds and lives?
-Is there a place for inspiration today? What kind of definition would it have? What kind of re-tooling would it require in order to have acceptance and legitimacy?
– Does inspiration require legitimation?
– What or who is a muse or a nymph? Where do they live and what territories to they inhabit? Why do they decide to hide from the naked eye?
– What is the current place of old and new mythologies in the creative process?
– How do “Narcissus” and “Pygmalion” make their presence known in creations and creative processes?
– What about other mythological figures that have found current embodiments?
– How do authors, creators and artists contribute to the reproduction of mythologies?
– Are mythologies eternal and substantial to creation itself and to the system of belief that foster creative, critical and artistic work?

If you are interested in participating in this Annual Symposium, submit a 400 to 500 word abstract by Friday 26th of April, 2013.

To submit an abstract online follow these steps:
1) Go to our webpage:
2) Select your Symposium of choice within the list of annual events (listed by period and city)
3) Go to LOG IN at the top of the page
4) Create a User Name and Password for our system and log in
5) Click on the Call for Papers for the Symposium
6) Go to the end of the Call for Papers page and click on the First Step of Submission Process button
7) Follow the instructions provided for completing the abstract submission process

To facilitate the processing of abstracts, we ask that you use Arial Font Size 10 and that you use plain text, resisting the temptation of using special formatting, such as bold, italics or underline.

For every abstract proposal submitted, we acknowledge receipt. If you do not receive a reply from us within three days, you should assume the submission process was not completed successfully. Please try again or contact our technical support for clarifications.

All presentation and paper proposals that address these questions and issues will be fully considered and evaluated. Accepted abstracts will require a full draft paper by Friday 10th of May, 2013. Papers presented at the symposium are eligible for publication as part of a digital or paperback book.

We invite colleagues and people interested in participating to disseminate this call for papers. Thank you for sharing and cross-listing where and whenever appropriate.

Hope to meet you in Toronto!

Symposium Coordinators:

Wendy O’Brien
Professor of Social and Political Theory
School of Liberal Studies
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Oana Strugaru
Faculty of Letters and Communication Sciences
Stefan cel Mare University
Suceava, Romania

Alejandro Cervantes-Carson
General Coordinator
International Network for Alternative Academia
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain


May 21, 2013
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