As a critical category and an object of study, “the contemporary” is often taken for granted or entirely omitted from academic discussion. We often assume it is the purview of journalistic criticism, and wait for consensus to arise before considering it a viable subject of analysis. Higher learning favors the study of the past over the present, which adds institutional blindness to the inherent difficulty of considering a changing object “in real time.” This is all the more pervasive in the case of Latin American culture, which does not circulate in mainstream American humanistic discourse, and is thus relegated to an always-already past condition in our academic milieu.
The premise of the colloquium is simple and enormously thought-provoking: we seek answers –from world-class Latin American, U.S. and European intellectuals, writers, and scholars– to the question of what is the contemporary. Participants follow three main lines of inquiry, addressing questions of comparative modernities, emerging canonicity, and conceptual elucidation of contemporaneity.
Sponsored by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages; the Cultural Synchronization and Disjuncture Working Group; the Tangible Thoughts for Luso-Brazilian Culture Research Unit; the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of French and Italian, the Europe Center, and the Humanities Center at Stanford University