RDG Conference Report of Miguel Paolo P. Reyes

Write up about the Conference

Below is a brief description of the conference aims:

 Even though Barthes declared the author dead, he also suggested an unavoidable construction of a figure or character along the literary communication process throughout his work. In the wake of these suggestions, and also considering Michel Foucault’s textual function approach, recent Literary Theory has been shaping different concepts and theoretical frameworks in order to re-think the author’s validity as a hermeneutical key. Acknowledging the author as an intertextual mosaic rather than as an empirical being, thus implying a dialogue between various disciplines, we intend to bring into question notions such as ethos (Amossy, Maingueneau), attitude (Meizôz), author’s image (Maingueneau), authorial scenography (Diaz), authorial performance (RAP group, Universiteit Gent, Belgium), imaginary writer (Diaz) or phantom writer (Bonnet), as well as re-visiting some key concepts such as signature or mark (Derrida, Leclerc).

 Furthermore, we intend to discuss the relationships between body, corpus and authorship. The term corpus –regarding an author– refers to the body of texts that compose this author’s work, presupposing the existence of a particular relationship between them. This assumption, however, continually suggests a surprising yet naturalized metaphor: the corpus of an author –that set of related texts– constitutes a body in itself. What is the reason for the construction and the acceptance of this metaphor? What kinds of associations has it encouraged? What are the implications of thinking the text as a body?

 The author-corpus assimilation requires two different approaches: On the one hand, the textual existence of an author, thus implying that this figure is a textually configured being, a being-there and, if it is the case, a being in the process of becoming. This theoretical position should be considered, but also, it should be taken into account that it entails to look upon the author as a derivative figure before his work or, at least, a simultaneous one. On the other hand, the substitution of a flesh and blood body by another no less organized, coherent, and functional: the work. What kind of genealogy of the author’s figure theorization and functioning has encouraged, maintained, and preserved this prolific metaphorical conceptualization between the author’s body and the work’s corpus?

 The four-day conference (from 2-5 December 2014) was attended by presenters from all Europe, Africa, and Asia. The conference’s official languages were Catalan, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English. The interdisciplinary presentations were, in keeping with the conference theme, diverse: authorship issues in film and theater, the inscription of history on fictional bodies, “transgressive” pseudonymous authors, and authors who write about minority communities that they themselves belong to, among others.  

 The conference was organized by the Body and Textuality research group, which, as per the group’s website, “is linked to the Department of Hispanic Philology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona [UAB].” It was described by the speakers during the introductory plenary session as one of the most productive research groups in UAB, which itself is among the top five universities in Spain according to the QS World University Rankings.  

Feedback on paper presented

The presentation was well-received by a small audience. A member of the audience found the subject intriguing, and asked the presenter if he sees a connection between nationhood and authorship. The presenter replied in the positive. The paper was also referred to by another paper presenter (who also dealt with Philippine literature) in another panel. Generally, the presentation piqued the curiosity of those who listened to it or were made familiar with it.    

Future directions of research presented

All conference presenters must submit a full paper on or before 31 January 2015 to the conference organizers for possible publication in conference proceedings and other conference-related publications. 

Other important contacts and insights

 Dr. Meri Torras Frances, the responsible researcher of the Body and Textuality research group, was the person who asked the presenter a question during the open forum of his panel.

 While there was no indication during his participation in the conference that the research group or UAB is currently open to foreign collaboration with a Philippine university, I noted that the audience seemed curious about the state of Philippine literature today; some audience members were familiar with our canon of canons, Jose Rizal, but did not seem to know much about Philippine literature during the last three decades.     

Short write-up of one’s participation (to be used to feature/publicize the grantee’s participation in the conference)

Miguel Paolo Reyes, University Research Associate of the Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman was one of the paper presenters in 3rd International Congress: Texts of the Body, “The Authorial Kaleidoscope: Textualisations of the Body-Corpus,” held on 2-5 December 2014 at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. He was one of two presenters from the Philippines, the other one being Orchidia Cabatuando of the English Area Department of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. Reyes’s presentation was titled “On the Transgressiveness of Bob Ong, the Philippines’ Most Popular ‘Bodiless’ Author,” which is part of his ongoing unfunded research on the construction of the literary author in the Philippines. In his presentation, he hypothesized how the way the mysterious pseudonymous author Bob Ong was able to achieve unparalleled popularity despite not being closely associated with any writers’ groups during most of his young career was a “transgression” of the “rules” of literary authorship in the Philippines.