British Comparative Literature Association XI International Conference 'Folly'

United Kingdom
Goldsmiths University of London
Closing date for submissions: 
26 January, 2007
Event dates: 
02.07.2007 - 05.07.2007
'Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit' (La Rochefoucauld, Maximes, 209).

Every three years the British Comparative Literature Association holds a major international conference on a compelling topic. The theme of the 2007 conference is Folly: folly in its various guises as error, play, lunacy, Quixotism, romantic love, scientific experiment, garden follies, rage, and wise jesting. ('Quantum est in rebus inane!' ['How much folly there is in human affairs!] Persius, Satires, I,1) Our five plenary speakers - academics and creative writers - have been chosen to bring into play a range of possible approaches to the topic: they are

* Piero Boitani, Professor of Comparative literature at the University of Rome La Sapienza;
* Rachel Bowlby, Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London;
* John Dixon Hunt, Professor of the History and Theory of Landscape at the University of Pennsylvania;
* the Argentine-Canadian-French writer Alberto Manguel;
* and the poet and critic Susan Stewart, Annan Professor of English, Princeton University.

The conference promises to be both an exhilarating and a chastening occasion for all of us who participate. The history and the presence of folly within our literature, arts and philosophy deserve to be acknowledged and studied more broadly than has recently been the case, both in society and among scholars. Projects for extracting 'sunbeams out of cucumbers', as in Laputa, may prove absurd or not so nonsensical after all. The Ship of Fools founders but folly seems irrepressible, and may indeed deserve praise, as Erasmus teaches us. It is tonic to make it the centre of our attention, and we hope that this conference will prove to be an influential initiative.

For further information , booking forms, and the full programme please go to: or
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