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Cuteness, or the Pragmatics of Diminution
Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
Department of Comparative Literature, Yale University

Keynote address by Paul Fry

Smallness, childishness, cuteness often have an unpredictable effect on the reader or viewer of literature or art that plays with the multiform potential of diminution. This conference attempts to initiate a conversation about some of the most ubiquitous elements of artistic communication: cuteness and diminution. Adorable animals, objects intentionally made small, thoughts and feelings intentionally made twee pervade art, literature, music, advertisement, cinema, interpersonal relationships, and everyday speech. In a way, diminution defines and channels our understanding of the world around us. Our aim is to assemble a cluster of presentations that explore the appeal and the potency of this phenomenon from a variety of angles and disciplines.

Papers may focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Childishness
  • Diminution as strategy
  • Diminutives as a grammatical and descriptive category
  • Diminution and rhetoric
  • Theories of diminution
  • Metaphors of diminution or Diminution as metaphor
  • Pets
  • Smallness
  • Cuteness and advertisement
  • Diminution and genre
  • Disneyfication in architecture, literature and visual arts
  • Shirley Temple and her disciples
  • Cognitive aspects of diminution
  • Poetic diminution
  • Diminution and descriptive strategies
  • Cuteness and/or diminution as narrative device

Please submit abstracts of approximately 300 words to The deadline for abstract submissions is October 3, 2010.

CFP – Cuteness: Yale CompLit Graduate Conference