The aesthetics of security in literature and visual media

Kai Sicks, membre de l’International Graduate Center for the study of culture appartenant à la Justus Liebig University Giessen (Allemagne) lance un appel à communication intitulé : « The aesthetics of security in literature and visual media ». Cette proposition nous invite à penser la notion de « sécurité » comme un élément structurant des fictions littéraires, télévisuelles, cinématographiques ou « autres » et nous pensons qu’elle peut donc intéresser des chercheurs s’intéressant à la bande dessinée. Nombre d’œuvres appartenant au neuvième art s’intéressent en effet à des modes d’organisations spatiales pensées en termes de sécurité, à l’instar du Mystére d’Urbicande de Benoît Peeters et François Schuiten qui fait le portrait d’une ville administrée autour d’une démarcation entre quartiers populeux empreints d’insécurités et zones nettement plus aspetisées. L’urbain devient alors le reflet d’une organisation sociale, comme dans le cas de Social Fiction de Chantal Montellier (et notamment de Wonder City qui présente un monde aspetisé et sécurisé) ou, plus largement, d’œuvres construite autour de notions supposant une démarcation (comme la frontière dans La Frontière invisible de ces mêmes Schuiten et Peeters). Enfin, il est à signaler que nombre de comics semblent faire de la représentation de la sécurité ou de l’insécurité un véritable enjeu narratif et esthétique, et notamment Judge Dreed qui, créé par John Wagner et Carlos Ezquerra, s’organise autour d’un personnage cumulant pouvoirs de police et de justice afin d’incarner l’ordre au sein d’espaces voués à l’anarchie. Nous reproduisons ci-dessous l’appel à communication dont la date limite est fixée au 1er juin prochain.

For the second issue of « eTransfers. A Postgraduate E-Journal for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies », we are looking for contributions to

The Aesthetics of Security in Literature and Visual Media

The contemporary debate surrounding “communities of security” inquires, in particular, into culturally disseminated representations of normality, against which the dangerous is demarcated. At the same time, this debate is concerned with regulations that are designed to minimise the risk of danger and which create an atmosphere of fear; an atmosphere which in turn encourages further concerns about security. This debate frequently makes reference to Michel Foucault’s work on governmentality and to Ulrich Beck’s theory of the risk society; both theoreticians come to the conclusion that such processes of normalisation, regulation and the creation of fear are implemented and legitimised through strategies such as surveillance and inspection, measurement and statistical investigation. These strategies can also be described as mediating techniques of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion: those phenomena or people brought into view as threats are identified and included through the operations of observation, yet in the same process are relegated to being elements which, for the purposes of eliminating an imagined risk, must be excluded, if not completely eliminated. Communities of security do not implement these strategies of protection at all times and in all places, as the language of Big Brother would suggest; rather they create spatial, temporal and social Zones of Surveillance which structure awareness (of the State, of the police, and of private security communities) and make focused interventions possible.

Literature, film and television transform these zones of surveillance into semi-fictional stages of social inclusion and exclusion. Often they allow the dynamics of power to be performed by stereotypical protagonists, thereby contributing, on the one hand, to the reduction of complexity in the field of security. On the other hand, however, they render this selfsame field more complex: if literature, film and television aestheticize zones of security (border regions, prisons and camps, slums) as well as strategies of security (surveillance, inspection, measurement), then the security procedures which are depicted also continually interact with these staged and mediated processes. This is because the modes of inclusion and exclusion which are staged can equally, through the mediation of narrative, be affirmed, revised or rejected. In this way, narrative media become engaged in the negotiation of potential threats and types of safety, and are themselves integrated into the spectrum of the normalising and regulating modes of security.

For the second issue of eTransfers we are seeking contributions which — through the consideration of individual texts, films and television programmes (and possibly other formats from the new media) — analyse this aestheticization and narrativization of security. Contributions may address but should not necessarily be confined to the following questions:

  • Which spaces and strategies of security are represented in literary and visual media, and which types of plot proliferate in the context of security communities? • Which modes and behaviour and which types of persons are identified as being “dangerous”, how does this occur, which modes of inclusion and exclusion accompany the depicted strategies of security, and are there unambiguously “good” and “evil” protagonists?
  • Which modes of observation, inspection and measurement are depicted and how do they interact with the specific narrative medium under investigation?
  • To what extent do narrative media themselves either encourage processes of security or attempt to avoid instigating their own form of security politics, and are these narrative processes given to reinforcing or disturbing the readers’ senses of security (for example, through the technique of unreliable narration)?

We request the submission of completed essays, no longer than 6,000 words, written in either English or German, by 1 June 2011. Contributions should be sent to one of the following addresses: etransfers@gcsc.uni-giessen.de or arts-etransfers@ qmul.ac.uk. When making a submission please take note of our detailed submission instructions on http://eTransfers.uni-giessen.de or http://www.sllf.qmul.ac.uk /research/anglogerman/etransfers/

Dr Kai Sicks
International Graduate Center for the Study of Culture
Justus Liebig University Giessen (Germany)

Email: kai.sicks@gcsc.uni-giessen.de
Visit the website at http://www.sllf.qmul.ac.uk/research/anglogerman/etransfers/index.html


Benoît Berthou

Université Paris 13, LABSIC Directeur de la revue Comicalités. Etudes de culture graphique Rédacteur en chef des Carnets de la bande dessinée

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Benoît Berthou

Université Paris 13, LABSIC Directeur de la revue Comicalités. Etudes de culture graphique Rédacteur en chef des Carnets de la bande dessinée

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