Calls for papers – Conferences taking place in May 2018

Vladimir Nabokov and Translation: Transatlantic Symposium
Lille, France, Spring 2018, and Chapel Hill, USA, Fall 2018 (the precise dates will be announced later)
Deadlines for proposals: 1 September 2017 (Lille), 1 May 2018 (Chapel Hill)

No translator and translation theorist has brought an equal amount of attention to the humble applied craft of literary translation than Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977). Standing at the crossroads of five languages and a matching number of literary traditions (English, French, German, Italian, and Russian), he experienced translation on a level inaccessible to the majority of his predecessors, presaging and influencing our modern understanding of the indispensability of linguistic and cultural interconnection.

Nabokov’s entered literature as a translator. He claimed to have retold Mayne Reid’s The Headless Horseman in French alexandrines at eleven, while his adaptation of Romain Rolland’s Colas Breugnon became the most exacting rite of passage of his career in letters. Yet while the controversy stirred by his rendition of Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and the methodology of “literalism” he applied therein forever changed the way we conceive of translation today, the totality of his work in translation remains the least appreciated and understood area of Nabokov’s creative enterprise.

To address this omission, Drs. Julie Loison-Charles (University of Lille, France) and Stanislav Shvabrin (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA) cordially invite you to submit a 500-word-long abstract explicating Nabokov’s legacy as translator and translation theorist as well as multiple other areas and instances of his engagement with “the art of verbal transmigration.”

We invite scholars interested in the multiple aspects of Nabokov’s legacy in translation to consider the following lines of inquiry:

  • Nabokov as translator (with special emphasis on the vast number of works beyond Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Eugene Onegin);
  • Nabokov’s translation theory, its evolution, and legacy;
  • Translation as reflected in Nabokov’s works;
  • Self-translation;
  • Nabokov translated (collaboratively with the author and independently) or retranslated;
  • Intersemiotic (audiovisual, cinematic, and theatrical) translations of Nabokov’s works;
  • Teaching translation with Nabokov;
  • The impact of translation on Nabokov’s writing.

The participants invited by the selection committee will have a choice to present their papers either in Lille, France (May 2018) or Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA (Autumn 2018). The two sections of the Symposium will work in concert to facilitate collaboration between participants on both sides of the Atlantic: papers will be made available to participants via a platform (written and/or recorded) and participants will be invited to collaborate when they focus on similar topics, to respond to a paper given in the previous section or to publish co-authored essays. This platform may also be used to work with graduate or post-graduate students in collaborative transatlantic seminars in translation.

Please send your abstracts (maximum 500 words, in English or French) to the following email addresses: and
If you wish your abstract to be considered for the first installment of the Symposium in Lille, France, please send your abstract by September 1, 2017, and by May 1, 2018, for Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

This project is organized with the French Society Vladimir Nabokov – Les Chercheurs Enchantés, The Université of Lille, SHS (France) (Unit Research CECILLE) and the Center for Slavic Eurasian and East European Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA).

(posted 15 May 2017)

Temporalities of Modernism: the 2nd CEMS Conference
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2-4 May 2018
Deadlines for proposals: 30 September 2017 (panel proposals), 30 October 2017 (abstracts).

We are not only “the last men of an epoch” (…): we are more than that, or we are that in a different way to what is most often asserted. We are the first men of a future that has not materialized. We belong to a “great age” that has not “come off.”(Wyndham Lewis, Blasting and Bombardiering, 1937)

There is little doubt that modernism emerges as first and foremost a temporal concept: not only because it has been most often defined in terms of periodisation (Friedman, 2006), or because it unabashedly styles itself as the product(s) of the time(s), but also because it takes time as the central category of experience, an essential cognitive tool, and as the paramount structuring device underlying its ideological and aesthetic programmes. Modernism self-consciously shaped itself as both an event in time – most often under the guise of rupture or revolution – and as a comment on time. It relies on the valorisation of the now, always accompanied by the awareness of the insubstantiality of the present as a foundational mode for consciousness. Its paradoxical temporalities are revealed in the permanent conflict it stages between the past and the present, or between the competing images of a future that is at once promissory and apocalyptic. Such antinomic temporality reflects the contradictions of “a modernity that is by definition never contemporaneous with itself, since it constantly projects, anticipates and returns to mythical origins, but that also teaches us more about the ‘present’, which it historicizes” (Jean-Michel Rabaté, The Ghosts of Modernity, 1992, 3). Its conflictual temporality reflects major shifts in cultural geopolitics whose impact resulted in a diverse cultural geography creating central categories of experience and cognitive tools through aesthetic programmes, as the case of “marginal(ized)” literatures such as those of Central and Eastern Europe proves.Therefore, the modernist sense of time continues to offer fresh ground for reflection and constant sources for understanding ourselves, even after almost a century has passed since its heyday.

The fragment in the motto, extracted from the autobiography of one of the founding figures of British modernist art, captures an essential contradiction lying at the heart of the modernist creative impetus: a baffling sense of living through a time that feels both apocalyptic and inaugural, of refashioning the tradition of a heroic past into the explosive figure of a revolutionary avant-garde bent on erasing that past in order to install a brave new reality whose defining feature may well be its impossibility. Lewis’ self-description does not seem far from Walter Benjamin’s image of the “angel of history,” facing both past and future but caught in the maelstrom of a catastrophic present from which there is no escape. Benjamin’s angel and Lewis’ men (simultaneously “last” and “first”) illustrate a conflictual ethos whose central trope is constant renewal, endless creation that hopelessly “shores fragments” against the ruins of progress, and that revitalises the energies of psyche in response to the homogenisation and disintegration produced by life in the modern metropolis. Messianism is doubled by the terrors of degeneration in modernist thought, and the resulting tensions gave rise to the fascinating energies of its poetics. The rapid changes occurring in the world at the turn of the twentieth-century – including the introduction of standard time, the advent of mass media, the invention of technologies that did away with distance, or the calamitous disruption of the war – had produced a particular version of the “time-mind” (a term borrowed from the editor of the recently published Cambridge History of Modernism) as “the establishing circumstance of the sensibility” of the age (Sherry, 2016, 28). As Ronald Schleifer has argued, modernist time echoed a “logic of abundance,” materialised in the multiplicities and constellations of public and private experience that had become overwhelmingly available. Rather than the empty, universal and abstract container theorised by Newtonian science, time modelled itself on the irregular structures of memory and the unconscious (haunted by the threat of technological reproduction and automatized interruption), to become “a constituent element of explanation and experience,” (Schleifer, 2000, 17), so that several key terms that can shed light on our own relation to the contemporary world are rooted in the turbulent modernist times: relativity, originality, reproducibility, irreversibility and the threat of the future.

We invite papers focusing on the following possible topics:

  1. Inventing modernism: the avant-garde moment – the relation between modernism and the avant-garde. Contexts of the avant-garde: geographical, economic, social, historical, cultural. Cosmopolitan and/vs. local modernisms: the modernist experience and the changes in the canon.
  2. Catastrophe and “the sense of an ending”: the politics of the avant-garde. The utopia of the avant-garde – messianic promise and the disruption of history. Modernism and the spectre of authoritarianism. Theorising the politics of modernism (Benjamin, Adorno, Broch). Reconsidering modernism after the Holocaust.
  3. Modernist poetics: rupture and event. Reinventing tradition: anti-modern modernism. Revolution as return, revolution as passage, endless revolution.
  4. Modernism and history: histories of the present, histories of the future. Historical explanation and historical nightmare. Regional histories versus global catastrophe.
  5. The legacies of modernism: modernisms in the age of “post-”. Institutionalising modernism: modernism as canon. Late modernism: continuities and the culture of opposition. Modernism in the 21st century.
  6. Divergent temporalities, fuzzy, complementary chronologies: modernisms across Europe (including the Eastern/Central European scene).
  7. Transmission – circulation – dissemination. Modernists translating/translating modernism: (a)synchronicities, interfaces, influences. Translation and canonization. Disseminating the avant-garde: media and manifestoes: magazines, journals, performances, films, broadcasting – economies and politics of modernism.

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Jean-Michel Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania
Randall Stevenson, University of Edinburgh
Declan Kiberd, Notre Dame University and University College Dublin
Péter György, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Rarița Zbranca, AltArt Foundation/Cluj Cultural Centre
Christian Moraru, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Panel proposals (max. 500 words) for themed sessions and abstract proposals (max. 300 words) for 20-minute papers with a short biographical note (max. 150 words) should be sent to the conference organizers at

Deadline for submissions:
15 November 2017 (panel proposals).
30 December 2017 (abstracts)
All proposals will be peer-reviewed.
Acceptance confirmation: 15 January 2017.

Further information will be available on the conference site

(posted 29 May 2017, updated 17 October 2017)

The Synthesis of Fictional and Factional in Literature and Art. The 7th International Conference at the University of Kazan
University of Kazan, Russia, 2-6 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 1 December 2017

Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation
Kazan Federal University
420008, Kazan, 18, Kremlevskaya Str.
Institute of Philology and Cross-Cultural Communication
Department of Russian and World Literature

The following list suggests some possible areas for development, but proposals in any area related to the conference theme are welcome:

  • theoretical problems of the nonfictional genres
  • document in arts
  • the history of documentary literature
  • nonfiction and fiction in European and American literature
  • the form variety in interaction of fictional and nonfictional in literature and arts
  • the stylistic diversity of the literary works featuring the synthesis of fictional and nonfictional

The workshops will be formed according to the proposals received. The topics for the round table discussions are welcome. Your proposals as well as your abstracts of about 500 words should reach the organizers not later than December 1, 2017

In your application please indicate the following:

  • your name, title and position
  • your citizenship, date and place of birth, all passport details including the date of issue and validity (for official invitation letter needed for Russian visa) – THOSE WHO NEED A RUSSIAN VISA SHOULD SEND ALL INFORMATION BEFORE December 31, 2017
  • address, telephone number, e-mail
  • your preference for accommodation ( hotel or hostel).

The registration fee of 500 Rubles (approximately $10) should be paid on arrival.

The papers delivered will be published in the proceedings of the conference. The materials for publication should be submitted within a month after the conference.

We will be happy to receive your proposals via e-mail

Head of the Organizing Board, head of the Department of World Literature at Kazan Federal University, Prof. Olga Nesmelova ( )

Secretary of the Organizing Board Ekaterina Zueva ( )

Don’t hesitate to contact us at any question.

(posted 12 September 2017)

Corpora and representativeness: AFLiCo JET 2018
Université de Paris-Nanterre, France, 3-4 May 2017
Deadline for proposals: 8 December 2018

The French Cognitive Linguistics Association (AFLiCo) invites you to submit paper proposals for its next workshop, AFLiCo JET 2018
AFLiCo JETs provide a forum for high-quality research in cognitive linguistics and, more generally, usage-based approaches to language. The topic of this year’s workshop is “corpora and representativeness”.

AFLiCo JET 2018 invites linguists, including junior researchers, to submit proposal that address the following themes (this is an open-ended list):

  • Bias in corpora
  • Material issues in corpus building
  • Theoretical issues in corpus building
  • The use of different types of corpora in a complementary fashion in linguistic analysis
  • Balance, size, distribution in corpora representativeness
  • Spoken/multimodal vs written/textual corpora

Anonymous abstracts for 20-minute presentations (+ 8 minutes for questions) should include a title and a short bibliography. They should not exceed 500 words (exclusive of references, tables, and figures). They can be in English or in French.

Abstracts should clearly state the following:

  • research question(s)
  • approach(es)
  • subfield (e.g. semantics, pragmatics, gesture studies, corpus linguistics, NLP, etc.) method(s)
  • data
  • expected or confirmed results.

Include three to five keywords specifying the (sub)field, the topic, and the approach.

Submit your abstract via the “Submissions” module on the conference website: (MY SPACE > SUBMISSIONS > MY SUBMISSIONS). First you will need to create an account on if you do not already have one, then click on “Submissions” then “Submit an abstract”. If you need help, let us know via the contact form. Each abstract will be double-blind peer reviewed.

The deadline for all abstracts is December 8th, 2017. Notification of acceptance will be sent around January 10th, 2018.

With the advent of corpus linguistics, the use of corpora has become central in linguistics. One underlying assumption is that the corpus is representative of the linguistic phenomenon under scrutiny. Of course, corpus representativeness itself is a methodological construct (Leech 2006, Habert 2010): language corpora are tools constructed by linguists, and their structural limitations constrain and condition the validity of linguistic findings.

Here is an open-ended list of issues that we wish to address in the workshop:

  • What does it mean for a corpus to represent language use, and what are the relevant criteria?
  • To what extent does representativeness rely on intuition, since it cannot be fully gauged empirically?
  • Because a corpus cannot be representative of all features of language use how can we address bias in sampling?
  • Does representativeness necessarily entail balance?
  • Can the design of a corpus be totally free from any form of theorization?

Solutions to these complex issues may reflect in the development and use of different types of corpora.

The representativeness of written corpora may rely on a variety of features. According to Biber (1993: 244), “[r]epresentativeness refers to the extent to which a sample includes the full range of variability in a population.” Variability can be defined as the interaction between situational (e.g. format, setting, author, addressee, purposes, topics) and linguistic, distributional parameters (e.g. frequencies of word classes). Sampling can be based on extralinguistic (sociological, demographic) criteria (Crowdy 1993). Balance, i.e. a proportion of sampled elements that reflects their frequency in the targeted language, is claimed to characterize some corpora (e.g. the Brown Corpus (Francis & Kucera 1979) and the Lancaster-Oslo-Bergen corpus (Johansson et al. 1978)), though it is not a prerequisite.

Although increasingly larger corpora, including monitor corpora, can be compiled from the Web (Baroni et al. 2009), large size is not necessarily a priority. “Big is beautiful” in the realm of corpora is, perhaps, a “delusion” (Svartvik 1992: 10). Large corpora are often presented as an ideal but, in practice, “small” corpora can go a long way in such domains as English language teaching (Ghadessy, Henry, and Roseberry, 2001), the study of metaphors (Cameron and Deignan 2003), dialectology (Hollmann and Siewierska, 2007; Boas and Schuchard, 2012), etc. Parallel corpora, i.e. collections of original texts and their translations in one or more languages, are particularly useful in areas of research such as contrastive linguistics, translation studies and computational linguistics (Kenning 2010), but their alleged lack of representativeness has called for inventive ways of using them (Nádvorníková 2017).

In the area of spoken corpora, collecting data that represents the variability of the multiple dimensions of speech (phonology and phonetics, prosody, gesture) remains a challenge today. Collecting, transcribing, annotating and analysing data, is a slow, sometimes complicated, task. Although phonological and prosodic annotations can be partially systematized (Bertrand et al. 2008), technological advances are yet to be made in the automatic recognition of speech and gesture in interactional contexts. Automatic motion capture technologies for gesture research are promising (Priesters & Mittelberg 2013, Guez et al. 2013), but little advanced. As part of initiatives such as the TGIR Huma-Num Multi-Com – CORLI Consortium, multimodality researchers collaborate to develop collective harmonised practices of collection, transcription and archiving of spoken corpora.

References :


Invited speakers:

Organizing committee:

(posted 4 October 2017)

Salaciousness, Licentiousness, and Promiscuity in Literature, Culture, and Law: 7th Symposium Opoliense
University of Opole, Poland, 10-11 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 20 December 2017

The aim of everyone should be to pass through life, not in grim earnest,
but playing at the noblest of pastimes, in another spirit from that which now prevails.
For the common opinion is, that work is for the sake of play, war of peace;
whereas in war there is neither amusement nor instruction worth speaking of.
The life of peace is that which men should chiefly desire to lengthen out and improve.

Plato, Laws

The 7th Symposium Opoliense is the next instalment in the cycle of the international conferences organized since 2009 by the Department of Western and Southern Slavonic Studies. In the present edition of the Symposium, the organizers have decided to broaden its formula to embrace all modern languages, cultural studies, and law studies. The organizers express the belief that the whole corpus of interdisciplinary research—especially in the broadly understood humanities and social sciences—constitutes its attractiveness.

Our conference provides a platform to reflect upon themes that address, but are not restricted to:
Module I – Interdisciplinary – Law and Literature

1. In the field of literature and culture:

Module II – Still eroticism or pornography?

  • Taboo and detabooization
  • Transformations and transgressing customary norms
  • The question of good taste: its evolution and limits throughout the centuries
  • Vulgarization of literary language as a reflection of the changes in colloquial language

Module III – Non-normative behaviours

  • Literary portraits of libertines
  • Witches, crones, hellcats – women and non-normative/transgressive behaviours
  • Famous people’s intimate diaries – autocreation or exhibitionism?

Module IV – Salaciousness in culture

  • Folk identity and salaciousness
  • Salaciousness in fashion
  • The Internet and its impact on the transformation of customs
  • Representations of gluttony and drunkenness in literature and culture

2. In the field of law studies:

Module V

  • Salaciousness in the public sphere
  • The limits of artistic freedom
  • The legal regulation of perversion: the historical and theoretical perspective

Module VI

  • Contracts on sexual services
  • The public and legal aspects of economic activities connected to sexual services, eroticism and pornography
  • Licentiousness in intellectual property law

Module VII

  • The issue of perversion penalization
  • Offences against sexual freedom and decency
  • Criminological aspects of fighting criminal activities against sexual freedom and decency

The languages of the conference will be English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Polish and other Slavic languages.

Articles that receive two positive reviews (according to the procedures of academic periodicals) will be published in Studia et Documenta Slavica and Santander Art and Culture Law Review, as well as three- or multi-author monographs in prestigious foreign publishing houses. Papers not presented at the conference will not be considered for publication.

The standard participation fee is 380 PLN (or €90) and will not be defrayed. The fee includes: publication expenses, conference proceedings, daytime refreshments, and a conference reception. Accommodation and transportation are not included in the conference fee.

Organizers reserve the right to select the applications on the basis of the received abstracts. We will inform you about the acceptance of proposed papers in January 2018.

Electronic application form can be found here:

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send them to this email address:

Organizing Committee:
Presidents: Prof. Joanna Czaplińska, Prof. Piotr Stec
Members: Prof. Sabina Giergiel, Prof. Anna Ledwina, Prof. Daniel Pietrek, Dr Alicja Jagielska-Burduk, Dr Marta Malanowska-Statkiewicz, Dr Anna Modelska-Kwaśniowska, Dr Sławomir Kuźnicki

(posted 4 Novmber 2017)

Nationalism and the Postcolonial
Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, 10-12 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 31 December 2017

Nationalism is an ambivalent phenomenon. Until recently, it appeared to be a relic of the past in the Western hemisphere, where it was associated with the emergence of the modern nation states in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but was also regarded as instrumental in colonial and imperialist endeavours (Colley, 2005). After the demise of traditional colonisation and in the context of an assumed globalisation, however, it signalled to many more liberalminded thinkers a form of backwardness in a world that, for many, had become ‘transnational’.
The picture is strikingly different for formerly colonised countries. In them and for them, nationalism frequently features significantly in processes of decolonisation (Hodgkin 1957; Chrisman 2004). Indeed, the celebration of postcolonial achievements in politics, the arts and literature very often assumes a decidedly nationalist flavour, though often with very different connotations than those associated with the Western world’s post-eighteenth-century nationalisms. At the same time, old colonial attitudes flare up againin contexts such as the United States of America’s search for their position in the twenty-first century or Britain’s selfassessment after the initiation of Brexit. In the latter context, nationalisms from the so-called Celtic fringe begin to play a role again in debates about devolution and independence.
All this signals the importance of reassessing nationalism in colonial discourses, in processes of decolonisation and in the supposedly transnational world of globalisation. Symbolic forms in art, literature, but also practices of everyday life are used for the expression of nationalist ideas and therefore provide manifold examples for analyses that might ascertain whether nationalism is generally problematic, sometimes strategically useful, prone to subversion, or perhaps even inescapable.
The conference invites contributions from Literary and Cultural Studies, but also related disciplines such as Political Science, History and Art History, Music, Media Studies, Linguistics,
Possible areas of inquiry include:

  • Nationalism in postcolonial literature, the arts, music, and popular culture
  • The language(s) of nationalism in postcolonial contexts
  • The histories of nationalism in postcolonial environments
  • Nationalism and postcolonial cultural and political identities
  • Pan-Africanism, Pan-Asianism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, etc. and their relation to nationalism
  • Figureheads of postcolonial nationalism
  • Nationalism and/vs. globalisation
  • Contradictions within postcolonial nationalisms
  • Indigenous nationalisms

Abstract submission and participation:
Please submit abstracts (300-400 words) of individual papers or suggested panels of three papers together with a biographical note by December 31, 2017.
Work in progress in Anglophone Postcolonial Studies – including MA/MEd, PhD and postdoctoral projects as well as ongoing research projects in general – can be presented in the “Under Construction” section of the conference, for which poster presentations are also welcome.
Please submit abstracts for project presentations (250 words) indicating your chosen format (paper or poster) by March 1, 2018.
For special requirements, please contact the organisation team:
Rainer Emig, Sandra Dinter, Wolfgang Funk (all Department of English and Linguistics, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany) Contact:

(posted 15 November 2017)

Sarah Hall: A Two-Day International Conference
University of Leuven, Belgium, 16-17 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 19 January 2018

Sarah Hall published her first novel, Haweswater, in 2002. Since then she has developed into one of the UK’s most protean and quietly acclaimed writers, producing poetry, short fiction and novels in a wide range of genres which are nonetheless bound together by a common style and a common set of preoccupations: wild(er)ness, female sexuality and the deep connection between language, landscape and the body.

Hall’s novels have been nominated for the Booker prize on three occasions and have won a host of other awards; in 2013 she won the BBC National Short Story Award for ‘Mrs Fox’. Her work is regularly reviewed in the British and American press, and, following the publication of The Wolf Border in 2015, has in recent years enjoyed a significant increase in exposure. Yet little scholarly material on Hall’s writing exists, despite its relevance to ongoing concerns within contemporary literary and cultural studies. The complicated legacies of Romanticism; ecocriticism and rewilding; rural poverty and the invisibility of non-metropolitan spaces; social breakdown and the endless reconstitution of political power; the dissolution, renovation and survival of gender norms; the reinvention of subjectivity and the scriptable nature of the body – all are significant preoccupations of the field and features of Hall’s rapidly evolving body of writing.

This two-day conference, hosted by the University of Leuven and organised in association with Gylphi publishing, seeks to develop the scholarly conversation surrounding Hall’s work through an intensive focus on her short stories and novels. It will be attended and feature a reading by Sarah Hall herself, and papers delivered at the conference will be considered for inclusion in an edited collection to be published in Gylphi’s ‘Contemporary Writers’ series.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Romanticism and the ‘post-Romantic’
  • The country and the city: agriculture, land ownership and rural labour
  • Wilderness and borderlands
  • The representation of ‘the North’
  • Desire, the body and sexual agency
  • Language and poetics
  • Art, ekphrasis and aesthetics
  • The mixed genres and modes of Hall’s work (pastoral, Gothic, dystopia etc)
  • The intertextual dimension of Hall’s writing
  • Hall’s relationship with the ‘new nature writing’
  • The aesthetics, politics and economics of the short story

This conference is being organised by Dr Elke D’hoker (KU Leuven, Belgium) and Dr Alexander Beaumont (York St John University, UK). It will take place at the Leuven Irish college (

Please send a 300-word abstract for a 20-min paper, along with a 100-word biographical note, to Elke D’hoker ( and Alexander Beaumont ( by Friday 19th January 2018.

(posted 9 October 2017)

Transfigured Voices: Vocal disorders, disruptions and impersonations
University of Caen Normandie, France, 17-18 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 15 January 2018

Organising committee :
-ERIBIA research team, Caen University (France)
-IDEA research team, Lorraine University (France)

General theme: The conference aims to examine the configurations and representations of the modified, alienated or affected sung voice in literature and the arts.

Main objectives:
In Gaston Leroux’s 1910 Phantom of the Opera, a young opera singer, who is about to lose her voice after her father’s death, becomes wildly successful thanks to the lessons given by a mysterious “Angel of Music.” In turn, the official prima donna makes a fool of herself while singing her showpiece aria, as she croaks a wrong note, which the author identifies in jest with spitting up a real toad. In this text, Leroux recycles a melomaniac literary tradition which, ever since E.T.A. Hoffmann’s fantastic tales, has nourished a fertile imagination surrounding singing and voices such as the mechanical, mystical, ghostly or forbidden voices which the characters in Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 Tales of Hoffmann take turn illustrating.

This conference seeks to investigate the representations of the sung voice in relation to states of alienation or transformation. We particularly seek to address the notion of transfiguration or metamorphosis which can be conceived of as a result or a phenomenon, a process or a technique. In what circumstances does the voice stop being smooth, transparent and self-evident, and instead, becomes a hindrance which troubles us? What voices make us feel ill-at-ease? What forms of vocality embarrass us to the point of causing rejection? When could we speak of friction and discordance between voices rather than harmonious relationships? What happens when the voice will no longer respond and sinks into illness and mutism instead?

Papers are invited in three research areas:

  1. Vocal disorders and afflictions: the conference will focus on vocal damage and ailments. It will deal with silenced vocality, the notions of vocal discomfort and trauma, oppressed and stifled voices. It will also discuss hoarseness, loss of voice and all sorts of pathological states of phonation.
  2. Disruptions and transgressions: papers are invited to question voice-related transgressions as well as all kinds of conflicts or tensions between spoken and sung voices (such as passages between recitative and aria). It is also possible to look into the issue of lost and recovered voices.
  3. Vocal impersonations and transformations: the conference will discuss the blurring of vocal categories, generic exchanges, the issues of the ambiguous sexual and erotic aspects of the voice. It will also cover the topics of voices technologically transformed, such as those found in recordings or in cases of mechanical transformation of the voice, and examples of artificially created voices or misleading uses of vocality.

Disciplinary fields involved:

  • literature
  • drama studies
  • music
  • opera studies
  • cinema
  • visual and plastic arts
  • gender studies
  • psychology and medicine

Organizing committee: Gilles Couderc, Nathalie Massoulier , Marcin Stawiarski

Scientific committee: Claudine Armand (Lorraine University), Frédéric Sounac (Toulouse University), Gilles Couderc (Caen University), Jean-Philippe Heberlé (Lorraine University, Marcin Stawiarski (Caen University), Pierre Degott, (Lorraine University), Nathalie Massoulier (Caen University), Nathalie Vincent-Arnaud (Toulouse University)

Key Speaker: Stephen Varcoe, singer

Abstract guidelines:
The committee will welcome abstracts in English of no more than 500 words and a mini-biography.
Please send your abstracts simultaneously to:,
Submission Deadline: 15 January 2018
After undergoing the reviewing process by the scientific panel, all authors will be informed about acceptance of their abstract before 1 February 2018.
A selection of papers from the conference will be published.

Registration fee:
The registration fee: 40 euros (payable by March, 31st).
We will be looking forward to seeing you at this international event.

(posted 29 September 2017)

First letters (18th-19th centuries)
Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines Victor-Segalen, Brest, France, 24-25 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 15 June 2017

An international conference organised by Centre d’étude des correspondances et journaux intimes, CECJI-7289 and Héritages et Constructions dans le texte et l’image, HCTI-EA4249

Although there is a vast body of critical literature on epistolary writing, the concept of “first letters” which the conference intends to tackle seems to have been neglected.

The idea of first letters can be understood in various ways: it can be about the first letters written by a person, which raises the question of the formal relationship to the epistolary genre, the question of the learning of a codified way of writing. One may think of the letters of children, of the drafts which were preserved, amended and copied. The first letter can also be written after years of correspondence: for instance, many letter writers have had a long experience of the genre when they write their first love-letter or when they write to a person of superior rank for the first time.=… Within a private correspondence, the fact that a first letter can be sent to a new correspondent, after years of exchange with other partners, clearly suggests that the same letter writer can write several first letters. A particular event or a change of individual situation can also justify the sending of a first letter in new interpersonal relationships. The idea of a first letter also suggests a link with the following letters: what connection between the first letter and the following ones if the correspondence is regarded as a series of letters?

Over the two days conference, the following points might be examined, amongst others:

  • Rhetorical and generic specificities of first letters: are some stylistic or thematic invariants, some social or literary codes present in first letters, which establish that they are part of the first letters of a correspondence, without even knowing their date? What is the impact of letter-writing manuals in the production of those letters? Has the practice of the first letter evolved over centuries?
  • First letters and correspondence: trying to define the characteristics of first letters involves the questioning of the genesis of writing, the way a correspondence evolves, how it reflects the changes in the writer’s and/or recipient’s lives, how it expresses the evolution of an epistolary relationship. Are the first letters attempts, drafts or matrixes, paradigms of the future correspondence? How much do they bear the traces of the future exchanges? Do they pre-determine the nature of the following exchanges in their tone, themes or roles ascribed to the correspondents?
  • The fluctuations of the notion of intimacy in a correspondence: how is the notion of intimacy, inherent in correspondences, gradually introduced in exchanges? Can first letters be intimate or are they bound to be more formal and impersonal?
  • The links between the first letters and an author’s literary work: what do the first letters say about an author, about his representation of his own self or of the persons whom he is writing to, about the circumstances of writing, or about his future production? Can writing to an author for the first time be totally separated from the idea of claiming a place in the literary world? Is the first known letter of an author his first letter? The first letter of a literary correspondence or of an epistolary novel often contain essential diegetic or informative elements to the understanding of the whole work.

The approach will be multidisciplinary (including the letters of authors, philosophers, artists…) but will mainly concern correspondences in the French and English languages.
Please, send 300-word proposals with a title, and short bio-bibliographic note to: Catherine Thomas-Ripault ( and to Alain Kerhervé (
Papers not exceeding 20 minutes will be delivered in English or in French.
A selection of papers will be published, on advice of a reading committee.
The deadline for sending proposals is 15 June 2017.

(posted 8 April 2017)

Female suffrage in British art, literature and history
University of Toulouse, France, 24-25 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 20 December 2017

Organized by Catherine Delyfer and Catherine Puzzo (CAS, U. Toulouse Jean-Jaurès)

Keynote speaker:
Julie Gottlieb, University of Sheffield, author of ‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and Feminism and Feminists After Suffrage (Routledge, 2015)

Though the 1832, 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system in Britain, and organized campaigns for women’s suffrage began to appear as early as 1866, British suffragists had to wait until 1918 for the franchise to be extended to women (25 years after women obtained the right to vote in New Zealand). In the UK, 2018 will be marked by various festivities and cultural events, such as the unveiling of Gilliam Wearing’s memorial to Millicent Garrett Fawcett in Parliament Square, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Yet in 1918 the “Representation of the People Act” was considered a controversial piece of legislation, even sometimes a failure, because it still discriminated between different groups of women, depending on class, age, and marital status. It was not until 1928 that a Conservative government passed the “Equal Franchise Act” which gave the vote to all women over the age of 21 on equal terms with men. Over the following decades, women’s participation in public life and the political arena grew, arguably reaching an important turning point in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher was appointed Britain’s first female Prime Minister. How is this trajectory viewed and assessed today?

Our 2018 interdisciplinary conference on “Female Suffrage in British Art, Literature and History” seeks to revisit the first female suffrage law of 1918, re-assess its long history and its controversial representations, and gauge its legacy today. How was women’s suffrage imagined, negotiated, criticized or supported in the press and the media, in political speeches, in fiction and painting, in the performing arts, or in photography and film? How did the role and image of women as legal and political agents evolve? How was female (non-)citizenship conceptualized and legitimized socially, culturally, morally, economically, aesthetically?

Possible topics include

  • Redefining the image, role and place of women in the public sphere in the 19th and 20th c.
  • The suffragist in fiction, theatre, art, the press, the media, film etc.
  • The relationship between the “suffragette” and the fin de siècle “New Woman”
  • Suffragist texts and suffragist thought
  • Victorian, Edwardian and post-war discourses on women’s rights and responsibilities
  • Political activism and the transformative power of writing and art
  • Men’s involvement in the struggle for women’s political rights
  • Contradictory voices, performances, and political/textual strategies of Victorian and 20th-c. activists
  • Men’s and women’s (anti-)suffragist plots, arguments and rhetoric
  • International dimensions of British women’s suffrage history
  • Major, minor or forgotten supporters or opponents of women’s suffrage; networks of influence; leagues, societies and parties
  • Law-making and law-breaking in British women’s political history, art and literature

All papers will be given in English. Please send your 300-word paper proposals to AND before 20 December 2017. A selection of papers will be considered for publication

(posted 25 September 2017)

Objects in Hardy and Conrad
Rouen, France 24-25 May 2018
Deadline for proposals: 15 January 2018

Conference organized by FATHOM (French Association for Thomas Hardy Studies)

According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary, an “object” is “a thing placed before the eye or presented to one of the senses”. The word comes from the Latin word objectum, itself derived from objicere, which means “to throw” (jacere) “before” (ob). An “object”, whether it is an artifact or not, may be put to some purpose. But the object as “thrown before” the subject, as a “person or thing to which action or feeling is directed”, may also refer to the thing aimed at by human desire. Therefore the object is not just what is owned, or could be owned, but also what one desires.

With Hardy, and then with Conrad, the nineteenth century drew to a close. In the Victorian era, especially after the Great Exhibition of 1851, objects multiplied in the daily life of English people. Homes became cluttered with decorative objects, and Victorian novels were said to be “crowded novels” (E. K. Brown), filled with a multitude of useless details or objects. Victorian realism has often been associated with an aesthetics where fullness prevails, in which proliferating objects come to punctuate the narrative, thus producing numerous effets de réel. Yet those objects also serve as metonyms, or metaphors, which represent personalities, situations, ideological positions.

The most striking objects are indeed powerfully symbolic, or can function as disturbing elements which cause the narrative to digress towards micro-comical effects, like the hat that Joes does not know what to do with when he visits Pip in Great Expectations. What about the hat lost by Bathsheba in Far from the Madding Crowd, and found by Gabriel Oak? What can be said of those strange hats which, in Joseph Conrad’s fiction, for instance in Under Western Eyes and The Secret Sharer, produce a punctum effect in the studium of representation, creating confusion in the perception of reality, in an aesthetics which is radically different from that of Dickens?

One may also wonder about all those “surplus objects” which, far from anchoring illusion in diegetic reality, disturb that reality: the red ribbon in Tess’s hair, the roses she is adorned with on her return from Trantridge, the ring which shines among odds and ends on the grassy floor in The Mayor of Casterbridge, the engagement ring which Boldwood forces onto Bathsheba’s finger, etc.. Objects can also be missing: they may be lost, found, handed back to their owner, retrieved after perilous operations. Their life extends over the years, during which they become loaded with meaning and memories; they can be exhumed (like those antiques that Hardy was so fond of), given, exchanged, sold, in complex circulations of meaning and emotions. When the lost object becomes irreplaceable, we enter the realm of tragedy: it means we are drawn to the Thing, “the absolute aim of desire” (N. Braustein), towards which desire is oriented but which remains unattainable, for “the tendency towards the Thing is the death-drive as the final destiny of all vital urges” (N. Braustein).

Focusing on objects in Conrad and Hardy means raising the question of their texts as objets dart—sublime objects, in Lacan’s words, i.e. “elevated to the dignity of the Thing” (J. Lacan, The Seminar, VII, “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis”). What depths does the literary text attempt to make us see, to make us hear, in Hardy as well as in Conrad? We will ponder on the different means by which “the heart and inner meaning” of things—“the heart of darkness”—may be approached: “my art is to intensify the expression of things, as is done by Crivelli, Bellini, etc. so that the heart and inner meaning is made vividly visible” Hardy explained (The Life of Thomas Hardy, 3 jan 1886). The “ring”, that small hollow metallic object which surrounds a void and catches the eye in Hardy’s stories also connotes the resonance which the voice of the text allows us to hear. Similarly Lord Jim’s “gem” has, if we believe Conrad, the charm of works of art (“the futility, often the charm, and sometimes the deep hidden truthfulness of works of art” Lord Jim, p. 168). What do Hardy and Conrad have in common in that respect, and what differentiates them? Behind the semblances which cover things, what unnameable thing may be made visible (and audible) by the art of those two writers?

One should not either forget the book as object. One may focus on the materiality of the Conradian or Hardyan text: how does the printed object, in three or one volume(s), serialized in a journal, or published in any other format, illustrated or not, modify our approach of the Hardyan or Conradian text? Those formats generate strong constraints, as regards the construction of the narrative—for they require specific writing strategies—and also in terms of the aesthetics of reception. Those considerations mattered to the Victorians, but they also matter to us, who are faced with the growing “virtualization” of literary objects.

Selected papers from the conference will eventually be submitted to the peer-reviewed academic journal Fathom, available on the platform ( ).

Abstracts (300 words + short bibliography and short biographical note) should be sent to Stéphanie Bernard ( ), Peggy Blin-Cordon ( and Annie Ramel (, by January 15, 2018.

(posted 4 October 2017)