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Semiotics of Postmodern Heroes in Contemporary Literature and Arts

Sémiotisation des héros postmodernes en littérature et arts contemporains

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Published on Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Sémiotisation des héros postmodernes en littérature et arts contemporains. Notre groupe de recherche sollicite les articles de tous les chercheurs intéressés pas la problématique ci-dessus. Les articles sont recevables seulement en français, en anglais, en allemand et en espagnol. Ils seront d'abord publiés sur le site de notre revue RILE et ensuite ferons l'objet d'un livre collectif.



« Il n’y a de héros que dans et par la parole. »[1]

For more than three years now ERELCI – Anglophone World Literature Research Group at the Université of Cocody, Côte d’Ivoire – has been conducting and publishing research on topics of literary interests. The latest collective work published by our group was on « Water and Literature » and it was a collaborative research with the Centre d’Études et de Recherche du Monde Anglophone de l’Université Omar Bongo in Gabon, June 2011.

To keep this international collaborative dynamics going, our research group is glad to inform all scholars interested in literature of our next research interest: Semiotics of Postmodern Heroes in Contemporary (US) Literature and Arts.

This year’s topic was suggested by one of ours who attended the 2011 Institute on Contemporary US Literature funded by the State Department and hosted by the University of Louisville. Our Research group being cross-disciplinary, we have decided to keep the research scope broad in order to allow for other specialists to contribute their ideas to this project of which the theoretical assumptions are outlined below.

The term “postmodern” as Prof Byers defines it during in his seminars on Contemporary US Literature: it is not a style, but the dominant cultural expression which characterizes contemporary consumption economy. In his essay on late capitalism[2], Jameson explains that the shift from classical capitalism to transnational and information capitalism fluidizes boundaries that used to be formerly fixed. Notions of canonicity, race, gender, identity and origin are revisited and people become skeptical toward grand narratives. Chaos permeates all aspects of social life; its implications are total: epistemic, sociological, economic, historical, political and cultural.

Fragmentation in culture (literature and arts here) reflects the crisis of social totality. The postmodern hero is not Achilles dying for authentic values because nothing is axiologically stable and purely original any more. The simulacrum pervades the postmodern world in and out. He hesitates to be a historical subject because nobody believes in its never-coming promises. The masses rather tend replace the expectations of overriding narratives by little concrete victories over the numerous difficulties posed by global consumer economy. While Homeric and Modernist heroic models disappear, they tend to be replaced by ordinary ones with no heroic (antiheroic heroes?) appeal to the point that the notion of heroic legitimacy turns into a costume too big for them to wear.

Eternal heroes are also being recycled into exchangeable ephemeral stars and purse-proud buyers of ideological commodities. From unsaleable, heroic values share a common shelf with other goods within reach of all consumers. What then ensues is the hyper-democratization, thingification and the nullification of the cult of distinction in the decentered communicational network in which new heroes find themselves as individual subjects faced with the Shakespearean dilemma of being or not being. The semiotic modalities of his representation and identification are a great challenge both for the writers and the readers.

The challenge of his identification may partly depend on our traditional understanding that the ink-sign hero eternally stands for an icon. While literary and artistic creations become more process-prone, conventional readers -looking for the satisfaction of the masterpiece- take not only the flatness of new heroes but also the attempt to replace them by cyborgs in science-fiction (Byers calls them posthumanist subjects[3]) as a semiotic flaw in creation. This touches off an interesting discussion scholars are expected to deepen with their innovative papers.

We will welcome all critical and theoretical leads on issues of heroic semiotic status, representability, character creation, onomastics, identity/selfhood and subjectivity, metamorphosis of heroes and sociological significance.  

Our Scientific Committee will enjoy reading your abstracts which should be sent by mid-September 2011.

The okayed abstracts should be finalized and the papers returned to us by November 30th 2011. The papers will first be published by RILE, our electronic journal, in December 2011, and later as a book in April 2012. Note that the final papers should be of 20 pages maximum, in Times New Roman and single-spaced. Please italicize the titles of books and bolden the headings of your papers. The font size is 12. 

Please submit your abstracts and papers to any of the members below:

[1] Maurice Blanchot, L’Entretien infini, Paris, Gallimard, 1969, chapitre XIII : « La fin du héros ».

[2] Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991.

[3]Bartlett, Laura and Byers, Thomas, “Back to the Future: The Humanist Matrix”, Cultural Critique, 53, Winter 2003, pp. 28-46, p.28.


  • Côte d'ivoire)
    Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire


  • Thursday, September 15, 2011


  • Sindou Soumahoro
    courriel : s_soumahoro [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Sindou Soumahoro
    courriel : s_soumahoro [at] yahoo [dot] fr


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

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« Semiotics of Postmodern Heroes in Contemporary Literature and Arts », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, August 31, 2011,

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