8th International Colloquium of American Studies, Olomouc, September 2 - 7, 2001

The annual international colloquium of American Studies at Palacky University in Olomouc (The Czech Rep.) was held in the ancient rooms of the Philosophical Faculty in September 2-7, 2001. The colloquium was organized by the Center for Comparative Cultural Studies, The Czech and Slovak Association for American Studies, and Palacky University in Olomouc. It was sponsored by the US Embassy in Prague and by Palacky University.

This year’s ambitious topic was ”(Mis)UNDERSTANDING POSTMODERNISM” and it was dedicated to the search for understanding this ubiquitous phenomenon. The presentations explored the ways in which postmodernism is misunderstood or misconstrued, or in which it encourages, or subsumes misreadings and misunderstandings. Among the wide range of contributions, postmodernist theory and literature both found their stout defenders, cool commentators as well as sceptical opponents. The format of the colloquium gave space to one longer plenary paper in the morning and two or three shorter ones in the afternoon (each from 30-45 minutes), followed by lively discussions.

The participants and lecturers of the colloquium came from 14 countries of the world, from Middle, Eastern and Western Europe, the USA, and Asia. The plenary speakers included Tom Byers from Louisville University, Kentucky (postmodernism and Holywood films), Jim Grove from Mount Mercy College, Iowa (modernist and postmodernist features of Philip Roth’s fiction), Inger H. Dalsgaard from Aarhus University, Denmark (new historicism and the Thomas Pynchon critical industry), Boris Vejdovsky from The University in Lausanne, Switzerland (postmodernist approaches to reading), and Ronald Schleifer from Oklahoma University (reassessment of post-Enlightenment intellectual tradition). The afternoon sessions included papers ranging from discussions of the reception of the new Norton anthology of critical theory by one its editors, Laurie Finke, the postmodern self in recent autobiographies by Isabel Duran, the dubious death of the author by Libor Práger, or discussions of postmodernist authors such as Barthelme, Barth, Roth, Vizenor, Woody Allen, or Ellis and the film version of his American Psycho (by Jaroslav Kušnír, Pi-Hua Ni, Alena Smiešková, AdamVelie, Cheryl Malcolm, Bernd Herzogenrath respectively).

The conference was opened by Josef Jařab, the Director of the Centre for Comparative Cultural Studies and the President of the EAAS. The closing lecture was given by Walter Hölbling from Graz University, the Secretary of EAAS.

Next year’s topic will be THE POLITICS OF FICTIONS AND FICTIONS OF POLITICS. The colloquium will be held September 1-6, 2002.

Michal Peprník
Secretary of the Czech and Slovak Association
for American Studies
Czech Republic.

We would like to acknowledge our gratitude to the Embassy of the U.S.A., especially to Madam Evelyn A. Early for all the support and aid we got from the Embassy, and to Mrs Marketa Kolarova, our long-term indispensible link, efficient aid and contact.

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