Reenchanting Urban Wildness: To Perceive, Think and Live With Nature in its Urban Environment
Perpignan, France, 11-14 June 2019
Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2018
An international Conference under the aegis of the CRESEM, UPVD
- Belinda Cannone, French writer, sponsor of the PUP (Presses Universitaires de Perpignan), author of S’émerveiller, 2017.
- Nathanael Johnson, American journalist and writer, expert in nature in cities and environmental issues, author of Unseen City The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness, 2016
- Nathalie Blanc, Geographer, French CNRS Supervisor, urban nature expert
- Serenella Iovino, University of Torino, Italy. Ecophilosopher, New Materialism and Environmental Humanities expert
- Anne Simon, CNRS Research Director, Head of the Animots program, zoopoetics expert
This international conference comes as an offshoot of a previous ecopoetics conference on “Dwellings of Enchantment: Writing and Reenchanting the Earth,” which took place in Perpignan in June 2016 (with three collective volumes on their way to being published). While this first event successfully brought together many academics and writers from various backgrounds, countries and disciplinary fields, it appeared that the call for papers attracted studies mostly concerned with dwellings of enchantment outside of cities. From there sprouted the notion that, while humans’ intra-connections with their natural environments outside of densely populated areas were indeed of essential concern, it may be just as necessary and urgent to reconsider the many entanglements between human and non-human naturecultures within urban and suburban milieus. For, as opposed to what modernity has often wrongly entailed, nature does not evolve solely starting on the outskirts of our urban dwellings, but has instead become an integral part of the daily lives of a majority of humans, living in densely populated areas. As over half of humanity now resides in urban places––a tendency that has been predicted to keep growing on the increase––, nonhuman life forms have simultaneously been coevolving with us in environments that can no longer be conceived of as antagonistic to the notion of nature. In more or less visible ways, vegetal, animal, elemental, and microbial agencies have followed the roads we have paved, adapting to and, in turn, shaping our shared urban habitats, sometimes even encroaching upon the more intimate dwelling places of our bodies.
If so-called moderns seek shelter in the notion of a civilized dwelling place keeping wilderness at bay, such an anthropocentric vision remains blind to the hardly controllable coexistence of myriad life forms within our gridded, sometimes walled or gated, shared, urban and suburban pluriverses. Suffice it to mention the pullulating of coyotes in North American suburbs, of spotted hyenas in Ethiopian cities, of foxes in all European metropoles, of raccoons in Parisian forests, of parakeets vividly coloring the sky in Brussels, of Geckos nesting on the walls of our homes in Spain and India––or in Perpignan for that matter––and the less glamorous domestic intrusions of cockroaches, ants, or other insects in our urban ecosystems to heal from the delusional idea of a dichotomy separating humans and cities from nonhumans and natural environments. Moreover, while some of these feral animals tend to first be considered as a pestilence or jeopardy, in many cases local communities have been finding ways to reconsider the potential intra-actions between various populations – whether they be part of the vegetal, animal or human worlds – in ways forcing humans to adapt to nonhuman agencies, and reciprocally. As for plants, the wild proliferation of weeds, the cultivation of city parks, balconies, greenways, gardens etc. has made these vegetal populations ever-present in our quotidian commutes, walks, leisure, workplaces, etc.
With a one-day conference held in Perpignan in May 2017 and exclusively devoted to “Vegetal Life in its Urban Milieu,” this new international event builds further on previous research, seeking to extend the enterprise of re-enchanting the complex, often invisible relationships between humans and non-humans that germinate from specifically urban worldings.
If the organizers themselves mostly specialize in ecocriticism and ecopoetics, we would like to encourage transdisciplinary dialogues, and therefore invite academics and artists across a wide range of disciplines to come together and advance current research and thinking on the hidden wonders of urban ecosystems (urban planning, biology, anthropology, ecology, botany, geography, sociology, entomology and ornithology, history, philosophy, visual arts, and academics of the inherently transdisciplinary fields of ecocriticism, ecopoetics, zoopoetics, ecopsychology). The scientific committee will particularly, yet not exclusively, welcome papers addressing some of the following issues:
- Magical realism as an artistic mode particularly apt to reveal urban wonders
- Postmodernism and the rewriting of myths about urban culture
- How material ecocriticism or new materialism have been sowing seeds for new ecopoetic paradigms to envision the products of our naturecultures as co-produced songs
- The role of urban planning in re-enchanting humans’ conception of nature in cities
- The enchantments of old cities compared with those of newer cities
- Community and grassroots initiatives to reweave naturecultural fabrics
- Ecofeminist practices, rituals and thought in urban settings
- Ecospsychology as a way of repairing human connections with their environments
- The latest developments in ecosophy and what light it sheds on an ontology of urban co-dwelling
- Postcolonial urban populations and their relationships to urban wildness
- Multicultural cities’ melting pots and plants
- Waste theory and production in urban areas
- Plant communication in urban ecosystems
- What biosemiotics teaches us about urban wonders
- Urban sources of food (Ava Chin, the New York Times“urban foraging” blogger and the author of a book called Eating Wildly)
- Health issues and urban nature
- The conceptual implications of the word “feral”––referring simply to that which has broken free from human domestication, a term that was applied first to animals and now to plants as well––with no exact translation in other European languages such as French or Dutch (George Monbiot, Feral, 2013)
- Education about nature in urban settings
- Urban naturecultural art forms (graph, dance, music, etc)
Scientific coordinator: Bénédicte Meillon, University of Perpignan
Organizing committee: Margot Lauwers, University of Perpignan, France; Bénédicte Meillon, University of Perpignan, France; Claire Perrin, University of Perpignan, France; Caroline Durand-Rous, University of Perpignan, France
Scientific committee: Pascale Amiot, University of Perpignan (Irish Studies and Ecopoetics), Anne-Laure Bonvalot, University of Montpellier (Hispanic and Portuguese-language Ecocriticism and Ecofeminism), Françoise Besson, University of Toulouse (Anglophone ecopoetics), Marie Blaise, University of Montpellier (Francophone Ecocriticism), Anne-Lise Blanc, University of Perpignan (Francophone Ecopoetics), Nathalie Blanc, CNRS, Paris (Urban Geography, Environmental Humanities), Clara Breteau, (CNRS UK, University of Leeds, Environmental Humanities), Isabelle Cases, University of Perpignan (British History and Culture), Joanne Clavel, Danse Researcher, University Paris 8, Doctor in scientific ecology, Nathalie Cochoy, University of Toulouse (Anglophone ecopoetics), Aurélie Delage, University of Perpignan (City planning and Urbanism), Jocelyn Dupont, University of Perpignan (American Literature and Cinematographic culture), François Gavillon, University of Bretagne Occidentale (Anglophone Ecopoetics), Bertrand Guest, University of Angers (French Ecocriticism), Daniel Finch-Race, Durham University (Francophone ecocriticism and ecopoetics), Karen Houle, Guelph University, Canada (Philosophy, ecocriticism, ecopoetics, ecopoetry), Thibault Honoré, University of Bretagne Occidentale (Fine Arts), Serenella Iovino, University of Torino, Italy (Ecophilosophy, New materialism), Edith Liégey, National Museum of Natural History (Ecology and contemporary arts sciences), Margot Lauwers, University of Perpignan (Ecofeminism, anglophone feminist ecocriticism), Bénédicte Meillon, University of Perpignan (Anglophone ecocriticism and ecopoetics, American Short Story, Magical Realism), Serpil Opperman, Hacettepe University, Turkey (Ecocriticism, New materialism, ecofeminism), Stéphanie Posthumus, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec (Francophone ecocriticism and ecopoetics), Jonathan Pollock, University of Perpignan (Ecopoetics, ecophilosophy, Shakespearean wild), Thomas Pughe, University of Orléans (Anglophone ecocriticism and ecopoetics), Sylvain Rode, University of Perpignan (City planning and urbanization), Anne Simon, CNRS Research Director, Head of the Animots program, zoopoetics expert, Scott Slovic, Idaho University, USA (Ecocriticism), François Specq, ENS Lyon (Anglophone ecocriticism)
The conference will take place in English and French. Communication proposals are to be sent as abstracts (300-400 words), with a brief bio-biblio note (5-6 lines) to email@example.com, before October 1st, 2018. Feedback from the scientific committee will get sent by mid November 2018.
(posted 12 February 2018)
‘Because of Her?’: Women and the Shaping of Canada
Bordeaux, France, 12-14 June 2019
Deadline for proposals: 20 June 2018
Keynote speaker: Lori Saint Martin, UQAM, Institut de Recherches et d’Études Féministes
The Interuniversity Center for Canadian Studies in Bordeaux (CECIB) will host the annual conference and symposium of the French Association for Canadian Studies (AFEC) from June 12 to June 14, 2019 in Bordeaux, to the role of women in the construction of Canada.
While Canada is adopting a ‘feminist international assistance policy’ to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in order ‘to reduce poverty and build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world,’ time is ripe to examine facts and issues related to women and their (somewhat underscored?) contribution to the construction of Canada. Borrowing from the ‘Women’s History Month in Canada’ hashtag #Because of Her (with the addition of a question mark to interrogate the statement) the conference will address the multifaceted role played by women themselves in Canada’s past, present and future history, their evolving status over time as well as what women and the femine have inspired in the collective and individual imaginary. The approach will be diachronic, dealing with the lands encompassing present-day Canada through the ages, and transnational, exploring the interrelations between Canada and women from within and without, including Native women, settlers, migrant women and travellers, whatever their nationalities or origins, provided their connection with what is known today as Canada can be evidenced.
We invite papers exploring: demography, migrations, matrimony, family life, education, work, health, ageing, spirituality, artistic creation, sports, Indigenous women, Canadian feminism as activism or theory (among others). Experts in women’s studies and gender studies are welcome as well as academics in all fields of studies such as history, geography, sociology, anthropology, psychology, health studies, philosophy, religion, cultural studies, environmental studies, law, economy, political science, literature and the arts.
Proposals may be submitted individually or as a panel (group of 4 papers on a common theme), in English or in French. A Word file containing an abstract of 400 words and a short biographical note of 100 words should be sent by June 20, 2018 to Marie-Lise Paoli (Équipe de Recherche Créativité et Imaginaire des Femmes-ERCIF, E.A. CLARE, Université Bordeaux Montaigne): Marie-Lise.Paoli@u-bordeaux-montaigne.fr
(posted 26 March 2018)
Speaking in Tongues: Celebrating Walt Whitman in Translation
Université Paris-Est Créteil, France, 13-14 June 2019
Deadline for proposals: 15 September 2018
When Rubén Darío published his sonnet entitled “Walt Whitman”, in 1888, he started a tradition that has been continuing for over a hundred years and that—witness Laurent Galley’s recent “Ode à Walt Whitman”—is still going strong in the twenty-first century. From García Lorca’s “Oda a Walt Whitman” to Jean Sénac’s “Paroles avec Walt Whitman,” from Pessoa’s unfinished “Saudação a Walt Whitman” to B. Alkvit-Blum’s “Dayne grozn,” Whitman, more than any other English-language poet before or after him, may be said to have attracted a considerable number of direct responses from poets not writing in English. The editors of the seminal Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song analyze Whitman’s attraction to English-language poets as follows: “Most of the poets who address Whitman do so to satisfy a gnawing urge to talk things out with him, to relieve the itching of his words at their ears.” For those not using English, however, their fascination with Whitman’s verse seems in great measure to have resulted from more or less accurate perceptions of his representativeness as an American, his claim to be read as an advocate of political and artistic internationalism, his innovative poetics, and, for a sizeable number of them, his ground-breaking queerness. Appearing to take at face value Whitman’s only partially-realized “absorption” of his poetry by his country, they have frequently invoked him as America made flesh, appearing in so doing to equate the flesh-and-blood author of Leaves of Grass with the ubiquitous “rough” present in many poems.
Just as Whitman’s verse has been drawing poetic responses from around the world for over 160 years, foreign translations of his poetry started to be published relatively early in his lifetime, first in reviews appearing in literary journals, then in book form. The former practice started in France, with a text by Louis Étienne appearing in 1861 in La Revue européenne. Étienne counterbalanced his indictment of Whitman with a generous selection of lines translated into French. Germany toed the line with Ferdinand Freiligrath’s contribution to the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, in 1869, and Italy, somewhat later, in 1879, with Enrico Nencioni’s piece in Fanfulla della domenica. These paved the way for book-length translations of all or part of Leaves of Grass, usually in its final, so-called “Deathbed” version. The publication history of these translations—continuing to this day—has been complexified by the publication of competing versions, along with the translation of once-neglected earlier editions of Leaves of Grass. On the other hand, this history reflects the upheavals in linguistic geopolitics, with translations into the major European languages gradually cohabiting with translations into the Asian and African languages they had once eclipsed in the countries their speakers had colonized.
This conference would like to celebrate the bicentennial of Whitman’s birth in truly plurilingual fashion and give maximum space to his poetry in languages other than English, while, for the sake of communication, speakers will be expected to give their papers in English. Among the many issues which could be addressed, separately or jointly, the following will be of particular interest:
- the practice of writing poems addressed to or dealing with Whitman in languages other than English, and their dialogue with their literary and cultural environments;
- the role played by translations in the reception of Whitman’s work in specific countries and cultures;
- the impact of Whitman’s poetry (in English or in translation) on the development of non-English speaking poetry;
- the possible interaction between Whitman translations in different languages;
- the practice of retranslation;
- the dissemination and teaching of Whitman in academic environments outside English-speaking countries;
- research on Whitman in non-English speaking countries.
Speakers willing to take part in this conference are invited to send a two-hundred word abstract by September 15, 2018, to Éric Athenot (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Graciela Villanueva (email@example.com)
 Rubén Darío, “Medallones”, III, in Azul , Madrid: Biblioteca Edaf 276, 2003, pp. 199-200.
 Jim Perlman, Ed Folsomn and Dan Campion (eds.) Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, Duluth: Holy Cow! Press, 1998, p. 23.
 The 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass famously concludes with the idea that:” The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.” (Walt Whitman, Preface to the 1855 edition, Leaves of Grass, Sculley Bradley & Harold W. Blodgett, eds. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1973, p. 731).
 A complete translation of Leaves of Grass into Arabic was published in Baghdad in 1976 (cf. https://iwp.uiowa.edu/whitmanweb/en/writings/song-of-myself/resources). For translations into Farsi, Malay, Kurdish, Khmer, and a few other languages, see the Walt Whitman Archive (https://iwp.uiowa.edu/whitmanweb/en/writings/song-of-myself/about).
(posted 16 March 2018)
Place and Placelessness in Postcolonial Short Fiction
Montpellier, France, 13-15 June 2019
Deadline for proposals: 1 September 2018
An International Conference organized by Etudes Montpellieraines du Monde Anglophone (EMMA), Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 and LCE, Université Lumière Lyon 2
Venue: Site St Charles, Université Montpellier 3
The unprecedented development of the short story in the literatures that emerged in the former colonies of the British Empire has by now become a well-researched literary fact. Postcolonial critics have teased out the relationships between a genre long regarded as a minor one (at least before its Modernist canonization) and the marginal positions of writers who came to the short story as a creative terrain to experiment with spatial compression and the startling insights it affords, from Joyce’s “scrupulous meanness” to Gordimer’s “flash of fireflies.” In postcolonial literatures – using the plural is the least one can do to call attention to the multiple realities the field comprises – the short story seemed a genre well suited to the expression of minor voices. The perspectives of the disenfranchised (all the more so when they were women, children or marginal individuals) came to embody different forms of subjugation in spaces striated by the political and geographical lines inherited from the colonial past. In the context of the colonial appropriation of indigenous places, the short story has also been claimed as a privileged site where to question the erasure of toponyms, nomadic routes, sacred grounds and the sense of place that pre-colonial forms of spatiality sustained. An interest in the archaeology of place is thus recurrent in postcolonial short fiction, where it meets with an interest in the successive forms of displacement and replacement that put a strain on the articulation between space and place in postcolonial contexts.
What becomes of these aspects when set in relation to the transformations postcolonial studies are now undergoing as a field of investigation disrupted by dynamics that conjugate the global and the local, challenging national and regional borders as well as the identity formations they buttress? Bruce King, after a life-long engagement in the field, recently published From New National to World Literature: Essays and Reviews (2016) in a collection that places the “emphasis on contesting definitions of ‘diasporic’ or ‘postcolonial’ writing, ‘transnational’ or ‘transcultural’ literatures and ‘world’ literature as used by writers, critics and thinkers,” thus inviting a “reconsideration of the boundaries that divide and the intersections that link these related fields.” King’s volume nevertheless sticks to a geographical grouping in sections (African literature, West Indies, Internationalizing British Literature […] Muslims and Pakistan) that grow increasingly porous while drawing attention to the mobilities that transform place, make it “portable,” as it were, as is the case in the latter category where Islam features as a form of emplacement in its everyday rituals, even in extra-territorial contexts.
Against the encroaching development of “non-places” (as described, famously, by Marc Augé), the short story can be regarded as a site of resistance with its particular ability to inscribe places, but also a space in-between where language relates place through the specialization of a common, international language. English as a world language can then become reinvented as place-specific through subtle forms of localisation that enable recognition and territorialisation. But the desire to reclaim place may also actively involve placelessness rather than reject it. Placelessness is then not to be conceived as the negation of place, but as a disruptive force that challenges the fiction of stability and property (“qui piétine les semblants du propre” in the words of Michel de Certeau) – a “making it strange” of place that posits it as the product of constantly shifting relations and exposes the fiction according to which place could be disengaged from its inscription in a signifying process. Placelessness thus reinstates the possibility of a becoming of place, place as event, not least through the mapping of a place of enunciation.
Short fiction, with its “limited” scope, does not only steer clear of the totalizing temptation of narrative, but often builds itself around an event, something that “takes place” and yet cannot necessarily be traced, circumscribed or fixed. Compression and formal tightness also challenge realistic protocols and question the illusion of verisimilitude that fiction may yield. This opens cracks, fissures in the referential process, or interstices between well-bounded territories where meaning is allowed to circulate. Whether we connect this with differance and dissemination (Jacques Derrida, Homi Bhabha) or with indifference (Jacques Rancière), placelessness is at the heart of a process of reconfiguration or reinvention that is made all the easier by the plasticity of short fiction and a “lack” of definition that turns it into a privileged field of experimentation. As it asserts the need to revisit places, the postcolonial short story can be seen as claiming the inevitability of place (place as incontournable in the words of Edouard Glissant) whilst preventing it from becoming a territory – a fine example of what Glissant calls “an open island”.
We invite submissions in English for papers that will not exceed 30 minutes in length, allowing time for discussion. Your proposals (giving the title of the paper, a 300-400 word abstract and short bio-bibliographical profile) should be sent no later than 1st September 2018, preferably by email, to Claire Omhovère (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Pascale Tollance (email@example.com). The participants will receive notification of the acceptance of their papers by 30th October 2018.
The conference organisers: Claire Omhovère (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3/EMMA), Pascale Tollance (Université Lumière Lyon 2/LCE)
(posted 16 March 2018)