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The fragment and its rhythms

Les temps du fragment

Writing practices, sites of thought, acts of resistance

Pratiques d’écriture, chantiers de pensée, gestes de résistance

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Published on Wednesday, November 09, 2022


The 2023 edition of Post-Scriptum’s conference aims to explore the possibilities, limits and singularities of a fragmentation of discourse, be it narrative, poetical or critical. Through this conference’s various contributions, we would like to reflect on the following questions: what is produced by such a shattering of discourse? Does the fragmentary form create an opening, give motion to creativity? Offering a different epistemology, outside of the frame, can the fragment disturb an intellectual or creative landscape? Can it give the opportunity to retake speech, or give power to rewritings and counter-speeches?


Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada, April 27th and 28th, 2023


In its very form, literature cannot be separated from time, from the history that gives it an anchor, from the moment of creation, from the rhythm that controls or frees the writings. The fragmentary form discloses the vestiges of time in their most material shape, helping us apprehend language through its smallest elements.

“Fragment” and “Fragile” : two words intertwined through etymology.

What is broken, and what can be broken.

We can think of Emily Dickinson’s fragmented and overflowing poetry, scattered to the point of reaching some empty spice packets hidden in her drawers (Fortier, 2022); of Alejandra Pizarnik, dissipating her thoughts in her notebooks, on files or loose leaves,

Fragments stolen from time who doesn’t blink.

Time who doesn’t flicker. I flicker.

or transcribing the words on pieces of paper, touching them, moving them (Di Ció, 2014); of Joséphine Bacon, whose first collection (2009) gathered fragments of poetry originally written on paper napkins or matchboxes (O’Bomsawin, 2020). This year’s edition of Post-Scriptum’s conference aims to explore the possibilities, limits and singularities of a fragmentation of discourse, be it narrative, poetical or critical. By questioning the traditional frames put forward by institutions of knowledge, fragmentary writing can bring forth an intellectual and aesthetic autonomy, whose parameters are reinvented by those who practice it. What is produced by such a shattering of discourse?

At once the material and the imprint of thought being made,

tenuous thread of thought broken thought bothered thought foggy thought

the fragment reigns as the spontaneous or necessary form of thinking and creating. The journals of philosophers or writers (Woolf, 2008; Kafka, 2021; Sontag, 2012) are a good example: their fragmented entries, divided by dates and sprinkled with silences, give access to the pathways of thought. Does the fragmentary form in itself create an opening, give motion to creativity? Certainly, it is a step toward some unfigurable,

Diamela Eltit and her syntax    misshaped by horror      spread language

impossible to grasp    impossible to bear    like torture

exhausted speech    scares screams hallucinations

wound-fragment    visceral utterance

of the unspeakable    margins spaces silences        refusal of the monolithic

of the machine gun speech

a way of giving shape to the soul’s sensitive stirrings. The writer pierced by grief (as Barthes in his Mourning Diary, 2009; or Roubaud in Quelque chose noir, 2001) lets the unspeakable infiltrate a space between silences and emptinesses. The foreign temporality of loss is embodied in the fragment like a wound; self-writing seems to find a natural vessel in the form of the fragment (Nelson, 2009, 2015).

Adopting a feminist and intersectional stance, we can put the emphasis on

Fragile fragments, stolen from the rhythm of breaths, the rhythm of bodies.

the fact that the creative time, for women or members of marginalized groups, has consisted of stolen moments that restrained writing, but also opened up other possibilities. Material or domestic constraints can be transformed into acts of resistance for example a resistance to the all-powerful (and masculine) Great Novel, that is then subverted, shifted. Poetry bursts in free verse, the novel breaks apart and other voices sneak in, and take root (Fontaine, 2011; Tapiero, 2021).

The endless saga won’t sink me.    

I cut slim slices of reality.

I leave silences alone.

I speak up through bursts and springs.

With the time left, I stare back.

I hunt for a worth in fragile thoughts.

Offering a different epistemology, outside of the frame, can the fragment disturb an intellectual or creative landscape? Can it give the opportunity to retake speech, or give power to rewritings and counter-speeches? Through translation or rewriting, canonical texts are reinvented and reshaped; the fragment can breathe new meanings into them. In translating Sappho, Anne Carson highlights the original text’s silences and maintains the experience of decipherment, using the fragment as a witness of what is beautiful in the incomplete (Sappho, 2003).

Proposals can focus on (but are not limited to) the following topics:

1) Fragmentary writing as resistance

  • To an imposed intellectual productivity;
  • To a traditional linearity of thought, of writing;
  • To the external requirement of a complete and total work of art;
  • To the frantic rhythm dictated by institutions of knowledge and culture;
  • To hegemonic epistemologies;
  • To a one-dimensional identity.

2) The fragment as a gateway to an intimacy, expressing

  • The unutterable;
  • Mourning, loss;
  • A wound, a trauma,
  • A plural identity;
  • A singular memory;
  • A humility of thought.

3) The fragment as a vestige, observed

  • Through its materiality;
  • Through its unclassifiable nature;
  • Through its connection to the past.

Submission guidelines

We welcome proposals from research and creative research, in French or English. Potential participants must send their 300-word proposals at: redaction@post-scriptum.org

by December 20, 2022.

Proposals must be sent in two distinct files: in the first file, you must include the title of your proposal and the proposal text itself. In the second file, you must include your name, your institution, your email address, a short biography, and the title of your proposal. Proposals will undergo a blind review by the reading committee.

Please note that travel and accommodation will be at the expense of participants. No participation fee will be charged.


  • December 20, 2022: Deadline for submitting a proposal

  • January 2023: Final decision of the committee
  • April 27-28, 2023: Conference at the Université de Montréal*

* Although we chose to favor in person participation and the quality of discussion that it allows, we will study with care any proposal that would need a bimodal format.

Scientific committee

  • Martine Delvaux (Université du Québec à Montréal)
  • Julie Lavigne (Université du Québec à Montréal)
  • Catherine Mavrikakis (Université de Montréal)
  • Livia Monnet (Université de Montréal)
  • Joubert Satyre (Université Guelph)
  • Marcello Vitali-Rosati (Université de Montréal)


Bacon, Joséphine. Bâtons à message. Tshissinuashitakana. Montréal : Mémoire d’encrier, 2009.

Barthes, Roland. Fragments d’un discours amoureux. Paris : Seuil, 1977.

Barthes, Roland. Journal de deuil. Paris : Seuil, 2009.

Cixous, Hélène. Ruines bien rangées. Paris : Gallimard, 2020.

Di Ció, Mariana. Une calligraphie des ombres. Les manuscrits d’Alejandra Pizarnik. Saint-Denis : Presses universitaires de Vincennes, 2014.

Dickinson, Emily. Poems. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

Dugast-Portes, Francine. « Écriture et lecture du fragment dans l’œuvre d’Annie Ernaux ». Dans Fort, P.-L. et Houdart-Merot, V., Annie Ernaux : Un engagement d’écriture. Paris : Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2015 : 169-177. http://books.openedition.org/psn/171.

Eltit, Diamela. Por la patria. Santiago : Ornitorrinco, 1986.

Fontaine, Naomi. Kuessipan. À toi. Montréal : Mémoire d’encrier, 2011.

Fortier, Dominique. Les ombres blanches. Québec : Alto, 2022.

Gill, Marie-Andrée. Chauffer le dehors. Chicoutimi : La Peuplade, 2019.

Gligor, Adela. « L’écriture fragmentaire des Fous de Bassan d’Anne Hébert ». Dans Daviet-Taylor, Françoise et Laurent Gourmelen, Fragments : Entre brisure et création. Angers : Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016 : 191-206. http://books.openedition.org/pur/46164.

Grossman, Evelyne. La défiguration: Artaud, Beckett, Michaux, Paris : Minuit, 2004.

Kafka, Franz. Journal : édition intégrale, douze cahiers : 1909-1923. Traduit de l’allemand par Dominique Tassel. Paris : Gallimard, 2021

McLaughlin, Nina. Wake, Siren : Ovid Resung. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.

Nelson, Maggie. Bluets. Seattle : Wave Books, 2009.

______. The Argonauts. Minneapolis : Graywolf Press, 2015.

O’Bomsawin, Kim. Je m’appelle humain. Maison 4:3, 2020. https://ici.tou.tv/je-m-appelle-humain/S01E01?lectureauto=1

Pizarnik, Alejandra. Diarios. Édité par Ana Becciú. Barcelone : Lumen, 2013.

Petrowskaja, Katja. Peut-être Esther. Traduit de l’allemand par Barbara Fontaine. Paris : Seuil, 2015.

Roubaud, Jacques. Quelque chose noir. Paris : Gallimard, 2001.

Sappho. If not, winter: fragments of Sappho. Traduit du grec par Anne Carson. London : Virago, 2003.

Sarraute, Nathalie. Enfance. Paris : Gallimard, 1983.

Segal, Ben. « The Fragment as a Unit of Prose Composition: An Introduction ». Continent, vol. 1, no. 3, 2011 : 158-170. https://el-s.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/the-fragment-as-a-unit-of-prose-composition.pdf

Sontag, Susan. As consciousness is harnessed to flesh : journals and notebooks, 1964-1980. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

Tapiero, Olivia. Rien du tout. Montréal : Mémoire d’encrier, 2021.

Woolf, Virginia. Journal intégral, 1915-1941. Traduit de l’anglais par Colette-Marie Huet et Marie-Ange Dutartre. Paris : Stock, 2008.


  • 3150 Rue Jean-Brillant
    Montreal, Canada (H3T 1N8)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Attached files


  • fragment, écriture fragmentaire, littérature, fragment, fragmentary writing, literature


  • Sarah Labelle
    courriel : sarah [dot] labelle [dot] 1 [at] umontreal [dot] ca
  • Justina Uribe
    courriel : justina [dot] uribe [at] umontreal [dot] ca
  • Benoîte Turcotte-Tremblay
    courriel : benoite [dot] turcotte-tremblay [at] umontreal [dot] ca

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Benoîte Turcotte-Tremblay
    courriel : benoite [dot] turcotte-tremblay [at] umontreal [dot] ca


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The fragment and its rhythms », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, November 09, 2022, https://calenda.org/1029639

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