This project, “‘Orientation’: una perspectiva dinámica sobre la ficción y la cultura contemporáneas (1990-en adelante)” (“‘Orientation’: A Dynamic Perspective on Contemporary Fiction and Culture (1990-onwards)) has been funded by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (Ref. FFI2017-86417-P) for the period 2018-2021. Its acronym is ORION.
After the research carried out in our two previous projects dealing with the critical notion of the ‘trace’ financed by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (Plan Nacional I+D+i), “El concepto de la huella: delimitación, estudio y aplicación a la literatura reciente en lengua inglesa” (Definition, Conceptualisation and the Applicability of the Trace in Approaching Contemporary Literature Written in English) (Ref. FFI2009-09242) (2010-2012), and “Nuevos parámetros críticos en torno al concepto de la huella y su aplicación a la literatura reciente en lengua inglesa” (New Critical Approaches to the Trace and Its Application to Recent Literature Written in English) (Ref. FFI2013-44154-P) (2014-2017), the present project aims to further develop the notion of the ‘trace” by focusing on a relatively unexplored aspect: the ‘trace’ as passage, its dynamic quality and its ability to orient itself towards and away from objects and bodies in space and time (Ahmed 2006).
To this end, we will employ the notion of ‘orientation’. We propose to conceptualise ‘orientation’ in a double sense: on the one hand, we would like to develop the idea of ‘orientation’ in close relation to the “polytemporality” of the trace (following Victoria Browne), which privileges process, dynamism and fluidity in its multiple temporalities, a timely concern in today’s fiction and culture in English. On the other hand, we intend to engage with ‘orientation’ by casting new light on ethics, affect studies and the I-you relationship that emerges in the encounter with the ‘other’ in fields such as illness and ageing studies. In this sense, several critical perspectives will constitute the theoretical framework of this project as we will draw on Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Judith Butler, Brian Massumi and Sara Ahmed, whose take on ‘orientation’ leads us to re-consider this notion in the light of the above-mentioned ideas.
As this project will show, the notion of ‘orientation’ will prove to be useful in the study and analysis of contemporary fiction and culture, published and produced in the UK and the States, taking into consideration today’s globalised environment, and in the timeline considered in this project: late twentieth- and early twenty-first century, a period itself which may be regarded as unstable, fluid and in process.