Mimesis and Mutation

Conference/Symposium | April 20 | 9 a.m.-7 p.m. | 300 Wheeler Hall

 Steven Goldsmith, Professor, Berkeley English; Michaela Bronstein, Assistant Professor, Stanford English

 Berkeley Stanford Conference 2018

Considering such recent work as Fredric Jameson’s The Antinomies of Realism and Jacques Rancière’s “Auerbach and the Contradictions of Realism” alongside evaluations of the practical limits of critique as such, it is clear that certain problems are foundational to our current sense of “the real”. In response to a renewed interest in the character and stakes of realism, this conference will mobilize the concept of mimesis in order to re­evaluate reality and representation. What resources might literary representation and expression afford us within and beyond our understandings of mimesis, in addressing the problem of the real?

We encounter a material reality through our processes of representational mirroring, but how are such ‘images’ of reality constructed, and what is at stake in a distinction between the immediate experience of life and its representation? Does the mimetic impulse require an act of translation or interpretation, or does this over­determine a distinction between internal and external? How might we rehabilitate our conception of realism in a world in which it may be impossible to distinguish between the real and the counterfeit? How does mimesis mediate between the social ­historical and the individual, the biological and the virtual? How does literary mimesis relate to or deviate from scientific models of mind and world?