Conference Presentation Samples

Disclaimer: While the ideas presented here are based on genuine academic research and analysis, their subject matter may not be suitable for all readers.

SCMLA Conference. San Antonio, Texas, November 7-10, 2012.

“In Intersections: A Reading of Sade with Bataille, Blanchot, and Klowosski, Jane Gallop claims that reading Sade through Bataille’s lens “rests upon the execution of a clean cut between the author’s life and the author’s work…For Bataille, Sade lived a possible life, but wrote an impossible life” (25). What I suggest here is a patchwork concept; by examining Sade and Bataille, and observing each’s suggested life in which torture, death, and erotic transcendence are one, I may then turn to history, utilizing this semi-philosophical lens to regard Bathory, previously mentioned by Bataille in relationship to Sade. What is believed to be true of Báthory’s activities (to the best of current knowledge) should have been that impossible life…

While a philosophy of life and existence, particularly that of authors such as Bataille and Sade, is interesting in a literary context, the scholar is often inevitably drawn to the author himself; as hotly debated as the notion may be on occasion, the ideas here rest greatly on the belief that posing questions about whether the author lives according to his beliefs sometimes lends credence to his argument’s effects. As Simone de Beauvoir states in Must We Burn Sade?, “Sade made of his eroticism the meaning and expression of his whole existence. Thus, it is no idle curiosity that leads us to define its nature.””

From “Sex in Hell with Bataille, de Sade and Báthory: Intertwining Philosophies of Eroticism, Torture, and Death”

Louisiana Conference on Literature, Language and Culture. Lafayette, Louisiana, March 29-31, 2012.

“Reviewing Darnton’s model is a step in attempting to do precisely what he expressed. The online reader forum has become an “expressive format in addition to books.” So, in “trying to understand the total process of communication and how it affects public opinion,” we begin on a large scale; that node which is entirely dedicated to publishing the physical, printed codex encounters the possibility of elimination (Darnton MIT). With the emergence of electronic publishing, the nodes’ interiors, or the nodes themselves, shift as the publisher settles within another section amongst several other individuals, including the author in some instances, thereby reducing the number of nodes significantly and very nearly eradicating the publisher’s status as sole and individual producer of the item in question…

Albeit the influence a reader has on a work may be miniscule at present, it is a symptom of the present consumer culture, where it is no longer merely the publisher and distributer who are concerned with selecting and producing that which will entertain, or sell, most. Authors like Laurell K. Hamilton are paying attention to their readers’ vocalization of likes and dislikes as well. The author of the long-running popular fiction series Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter (which began in 1993 and shows no signs of ceasing), Hamilton has a close relationship with her fans, one which has evolved over a lengthy period of time. Both its long-lasting continuation and sexy subject matter have been a factor in amassing a dedicated fan base; followers have had these many years to develop an attachment to the permanent characters and the author who created them. Hamilton is committed to her devotees, spending time and resources to open avenues of communication between herself and them, answering questions, and publicizing new events related to her work and personal life.”

From “‘Life’s too Short to Read Books You Don’t Like’: Anita Blake and her Bloodthirsty Readers”

The LSU English Graduate Student Association’s Annual Mardi Gras Conference. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, February 16-17, 2012.

“This alpha male quality is intensified by the mating heat, and causes most of the problems between the two protagonists throughout all the novels. It is stated constantly that “Breeds are possessive, even when they aren’t in mating heat…Having any lover, even another woman, would be unacceptable to him” (NP 92). The strong willed intelligent woman resists being dominated by the hot headed over protective Breed, and both fight the hormonally driven desire pressing them toward one another…

In this moment, Leigh carefully veils this dangerous issue by having her female very carefully veil her answer. Anya is unwilling to state she was raped, because throughout the ordeal it is suggested that some part of her knows she loves Del-Rey Delgado, and she really did want it. It raises the question, of course, why would a woman subscribe to a fantasy which adds a blurring of the lines between acceptance and force to copulation with an animal in this way? A psychological study entitled “Social Dominance and Forceful Submission Fantasies: Feminine Pathology or Power?” asks a similar question: “Market forces reveal much about human motivation, and looking at the ‘‘romance’’ literature should inform about female sexuality. What does it mean that a prevailing theme involves explicit submission to a powerful man (more than one half of historical romance novels sampled; Thurston, 1987)?” (Hawley 568).”

From ‘”Slam, Bam, Knot You, Ma’am’: A Sexy New “Breed” of Bestiality in the Erotic Novel”

The Louisiana Studies Conference. Natchitoches, Louisiana, September 23-24, 2011.

“What I want to examine here is not entirely the cultural impact of these works, but instead what is within them which reveals what addictive allure Louisiana possesses; the magic which holds authors in thrall, makes for an ideal home for the contemporary vampire, and draws us all back in for another taste.
So, let’s begin with landscape. By this, I don’t mean simply the state in question. I mean the details. Louis, like his creator, author, not vampire, is quite mesmerized by his reminiscences of the scenery. He says:

“I was talking about the plantations. They had a great deal to do with it, really, my becoming a vampire. But I’ll come to that. Our life there was both luxurious and primitive. And we ourselves found it extremely attractive. You see, we lived far better there than we could have ever lived in France. Perhaps the sheer wilderness of Louisiana only made it seem so, but seeming so, it was…I can still remember that thin, rapid music and the vision of the swamp rising beyond her, the moss-hung cypresses floating against the sky. And there were the sounds of the swamp, a chorus of creatures, the cry of the birds. I think we loved it” (6)

 

It’s doubtful that the modern day Louisiana native looks around and sees the Louisiana landscape the way Louie does. Instead, he or she is probably wiping beads of sweat away and searching for water, thanks to the humidity, not to mention swatting away what has been humorously referred to as the unofficial state bird. But pause and consider the wilds of Louisiana as new and untamable, and sometimes dense and frightening, like the vampire himself.”

From “She’s ‘Basically Vampire Crack’: Louisiana as a Home for the Literary Vampire”

The Fantastic in Literature Conference. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, March 10-12, 2011.

“Hamilton’s series Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter began its long life in 1993 with its first novel Guilty Pleasures. Despite its classification as popular, and often pornographic, literature, Hamilton manages to explore the possibilities of the vampire genre, and did so well before several series currently being proclaimed as pioneers. Bisexuality in her series plays a significant role, however, in character relations throughout, and its sizeable presence indicates it is a major sexual concern in reality, and suggests a need for authors, and readers, to investigate it. Bisexuality is a “fluid identity,” that to many “connotes promiscuity, immaturity, or wishy-washiness” (Garber, 40). Some see claiming bisexuality as simply choosing not to label. Either way, the term bisexual indicates an individual who is sexually attracted to, and has the ability to become romantically involved or fall in love with, either of the sexes. Bisexuality is the source of much confusion, and personal and social strife, for many individuals on both ends of the hetero and homosexual spectrum, and Hamilton’s vampire fiction offers an excellent and intriguing mirror of this confusion in one of the series’ lingering characters: Asher.”

From “Vampire “Otherness,” Disfigurement, and Bisexuality: Asher as a Model of the Contemporary Bisexual”

Louisiana Conference on Literature, Language and Culture. Lafayette, Louisiana, March 5-7, 2009.

“The aesthetic passion in the French language lends itself to the decadence of the play; Salomé would not be Salomé without it. By writing in French “Wilde rather archly extends the dynamics of the aestheticizing gaze as its struggle for perceptual authority out beyond the canvas of his art.”[1] Yet Wilde’s concern here is not entirely the notion of passion, but decadence—that is, that fine line between the depraved and the indulgent. Examples of this exist and spring from the multilingual literary environment of Western Europe during the period. Decadence, in this instance, rides on both voice and meaning as they interact with the play’s subject matter, and the period and lifestyle in which Wilde was engaged. Wine, women, beauty and sex are the bases for the decadent lifestyle of the Fin de Siècle. In this particular literary embodiment, a combination of sex and death becomes symbolic of the ultimate decadent lifestyle as Salomé lusts after Iokanaan’s severed head. These images alone are enough to shock and inspire the masses, but Wilde had more in mind: for him, the only language poetic enough to support such excess was French.”

[1] Greger, Christoph, “Constructing the Aesthetic Gaze: Salome and the Submissive Art of Spectatorship,” Literature and Psychology 47 (2001): 50.

From “Kissing the Severed Head: Connotation and the Bounds of Desire in Wilde’s Salomé”

Critical Voices Conference, Graduate Students in English Association. Denton, Texas, March 28 – 29, 2008.

“Despite her masquerading as a man, Silence serves as a model for the medieval woman. She is quiet, loyal, and thus virginal. She is the perfect woman, just dressed as a man. However, as a hero, Silence must have a nemesis who highlights the goodness within the virtuous maiden-man.

Here I will discuss another character whom, I will argue, is essential in Silence’s development as a model for medieval women. Queen Eufeme is Silence’s antithesis. She is devious, sensual, and loud. She knows precisely how to get what and whom she wants, and she wants Silence. With each and every wily and seductive tactic Eufeme exposes herself to the reader, and to Silence, as a dangerous femme-fatale. Eufeme uses gender role to achieve her goal. Thus Silence, thwarting each and every attempt, appears all the more virtuous, and a picture of the ideal.”

From “The Silent Woman and the Screaming Whore: Queen Eufeme and Her Gender Roles in Silence”

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Copyright © 2016 by Erin Dunbar

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Copyright © 2016 by Erin Dunbar