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10th International Connotations Symposium

"Roads not Taken"

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
August 2 - August 6, 2009

Symposium 2011: Poetic Economy - click to enlarge

The symposium will be about a subject which, strictly speaking, is not a subject at all. It is the road not taken: an opportunity missed, a word not spoken, a life not lived. One variation on this theme is the story of a middle-aged or old character who looks back on his life, in a more or less melancholy mood,  pondering a career he has not had or a relationship he has not embarked upon (e.g. James, “The Beast in the Jungle”; Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape; Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day). But the road not taken need not always be a good thing missed. It could also be the primrose path of dalliance or any other highroad to ruin avoided by sheer luck, by divine intervention, or because insight came just in time. An example would be Prospero’s renunciation of vengeance in The Tempest or Christian’s not following the way to Hell in Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Another variant of the theme is the treatment of several plot developments that branch off from the same premises, as in John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (i.e. the roads not taken are treated as more or less equivalent with the one actually chosen). Questions to be dealt with include the following: How do the road taken and the road not taken compare with each other? Is an unlived life unfolded in great detail or is it merely suggested through pregnant details? Is it conveyed through the character’s memories and fantasies or is it represented through some other means? Do pre-modern texts emphasize nemesis avoided whereas modern ones focus on chances missed?

As the emphasis of the Connotations symposia is on critical debate, talks will be 30 minutes, leaving another 30 minutes for discussion.


Sunday, August 2

19:00 Welcome dinner; conference warming

Monday, August 3

9:00 Matthias Bauer: Conference Opening
9:15 Joerg O. Fichte (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen): State super vias, et videte, et interrogate de viis antiquis que sit bona, et ambulate in ea
10:15 Inmaculada Medina Barco (National University of Distance, Spain): Choice at Crossroads: Pilgrim at the Bivium in A Medieval Journey by Seán Virgo

11:15-11:45 Coffee Break

11:45 Arthur Kinney (University of Massachusetts, Amherst): Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Its Source

12:45-14:00 Lunch

14:00 David Fishelov (Hebrew University Jerusalem): Roads-Not-Taken, Taken by the Adapter: The Case of Biblical Samson
15:00 William Harmon (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill): No One, No Way

16:00-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 Burkhard Niederhoff (Ruhr Universität Bochum): The Motif of the Unlived Life in The Remains of the Day and The Invention of Love
17:30 David Lucking (Università del Salento, Italy): Perfecting the Life or the Work

19:00 Dinner

Tuesday, August 4

8:30 Olga Springer (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen): "[P]ulling down my veil, and gathering round me my cloak": The Possibility of Lucy Snowe's Becoming a Nun in Charlotte Brontë's Villette
9:30 Philipp Erchinger (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg): "That space told the whole story!": Possible Histories in Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White

10:30-11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 Angelika Zirker (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen): "The Road to Happiness": Jane Austen's Mansfield Park
12:00 Lori Newcomb (Wayne State College): To Fork and Re-Fork Without End: The Labyrinth of Lolita

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00 Myrtle Hooper (University of Zululand): "Going to marry": The Embodiment of Loss in Pauline Smith's "The Pastor's Daughter"
15:00 Silvia Ammary (John Cabot University, Rome): "The Road Not Taken" in Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

16:00-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 Elena Anastasaki (The Open University of Greece): Henry James's Double Bind: Chasing Identity in "The Jolly Corner"
17:30 Claudia Olk (Humboldt Universität Berlin): "Unwritten Novels" - The Road Not Taken as a Paradigm in Modernist Aesthetics: Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room

19:30 Dinner

Wednesday, August 5

8:30 Robert E. Kohn (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville): Pynchon Takes the Fork in the Road
9:30 Maurice Charney (Rutgers University New York): Joe Orton's Laodicean Tragedy: The Good and Faithful Servant

10:30-11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 Margit Peterfy (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz): Choices and Regrets in John Greenleaf Whittier's Poem "Maud Muller" (1854)
12:00 Stephen Butler (University of Koszalin, Poland): The Metaphysical Concept of Possibility in Paul Muldoon's Poetry

13:00-14:00 Lunch

15:30 Excursion to the Cistercian Monastery of Alpirsbach; Dinner

Thursday, August 6

8:30 Lesley D. Clement (Lakehead University, Canada): Confronting the Unknown in Three Children's Novels
9:30 Carolina Ferrer (Université du Québec à Montréal): All the Roads Taken: Jorge Luis Borges's "The Garden of Forking Paths"

10:30-11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 Leyli Jamali (Islamic Azad University of Tabriz): The Roads Not Taken / The Fruits Not Eaten in Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
12:00 Miriam Havemann (Ruhr Universität Bochum): 404 NOT FOUND: Links Not Taken in Hypertext Fiction

13:00 Lunch and End of Conference

Click here if you want to learn more about former Symposia.