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DISAPPEARANCE: Spatial and Temporal Horizons

a two-day interdisciplinary conference

November 7th & 8th, 2013

The Department of Comparative Literature

The Graduate Center, CUNY

New York, New York

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The Graduate Students in The Department of Comparative Literature at The Graduate Center, CUNY invite you to a conference investigating the question of disappearance through various disciplines, to be held on November 7th & 8th, 2013.

Disappearance is first used as a noun in English in a 1712 edition of the Spectator. Founder Joseph Addison writes that if we “look into the Bulk of our Species, they are such as are not likely to be remembered a Moment after their Disappearance. They leave behind them no Traces of Their Existence, but are forgotten as tho’ they had never been” (No. 317).

If disappearance is broadly considered as a transition from being there to no longer being there, then what is it that happens in the instance of vanishing? What disappears? What causes disappearance? How does disappearance function? How are questions of memory, existence and trace exacerbated when the term is directly applied in a political context, as it has commonly been used since the 1950s. In what ways do academic disciplines perpetuate and protect against disappearances? If the moment of disappearance is a horizon, how can we mobilize our understanding of space and time to open new perspectives within the question of disappearance?

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