2023 Conference for the American Comparative Literature Association

By Joel Kuipers

On sparkling bright day on March 17th, I walked along the Chicago River dyed bright green in honor of St Patrick’s day.

Chicago River dyed green for St Patrick’s Day 2023. Photo by Joel Kuipers

When I got to the Grand Sheraton Chicago for the American Comparative Literature Association meetings, around 25 people had gathered in a comfortable seminar room to present and discuss papers on the theme of “Bearing Witness to COVID-19: Care, Culture, and Memory Activism.”

From Left: Deniz Gundogan Ibrisim (Sabanci University, Istanbul), Jay Rajiva (Georgia State University) Sara Senk (CSU Maritime); not pictured Joel Kuipers (GWU). Photo by Joel Kuipers.

After a brief introduction by Sarah Senk, Jay Rajiva talked about the multisensory (“echolocational”) aspects of grief and memory in Edwidge Danticat’s novel, Claire of the Sea Light. This was followed by Deniz Gundogan Ibrisim of Sabanci University in Istanbul, who presented on “Home-Based Art Engagement as Collective Care and Slow Memory Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic” in Istanbul. Finally, I presented on “Part of Something Bigger: Emotional Politics and the Challenge for the Recognition of Grief in the COVID-19 Pandemic.” There was interesting discussion about – among other things – the challenging “unfinalizability” of memorialization narratives.

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