Consolation in contemporary British and postcolonial literatures
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (France), 6-7 April 2023
Submission deadline: 30 November 2022
Event organised by
- ENS de Lyon, IHRI
- Vanessa Guignery, Diane Gagneret and Héloïse Lecomte
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon : Amphitheatre Descartes, 15 Parvis René Descartes, 69007 Lyon
Professor David James (University of Birmingham)
In a contemporary era defined as an age of crisis by Emily Horton (2014), the notion of consolation has gained cultural visibility as a response to collective suffering, even more so in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. While the notion was once dismissed as a mere diversion, distraction or sugarcoating of pain imbued with religious connotations, its identification as a “critical instrument” (Foessel 23) has led to a flurry of publications on the topic in recent years, notably by philosopher Michaël Foessel (Le Temps de la consolation,2015), literary critics David James (Discrepant Solace: Contemporary Literature and the Work of Consolation, 2019) and Jürgen Pieters (Literature and Consolation: Fictions of Comfort, 2021), essayists Anne-Dauphine Julliand (Consolation, 2020) and Michael Ignatieff (On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times, 2021) or psychiatrist Christophe André (Consolations, 2022).
While consolation is inseparable from suffering as noted by Anne-Dauphine Julliand in the first pages of her essay, the etymology of the term, from the Latin consolari (con- + sōlārī, to solace, to soothe), seems to place a relational dimension at its core: one is “to find solace together” to quote Michael Ignatieff (1). From that perspective, consolation can be envisaged in relation to the ethics of care and the ethics of alterity although interconnectedness does not guarantee consolation. Even when pain is temporarily alleviated, consolation cannot be equated with full healing or recovery: it “only brings into greater focus the wound it targets, more often exposing than dispelling the desolation it promises to offset” (James 1). Thus, according to David James, accepting solace “means conceding what cannot be repaired” (1), and consolation needs to be examined in relation to inconsolability or even to what Julian Barnes calls “disconsolation” in his essay on death, Nothing to be Frightened Of (2008). As no substitute can replace what has been lost or broken, individuals are bound to be part of “the unconsoled”, to quote the title of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 1995 novel and the dedication to Arundathi Roy’s Ministry of the Utmost Happiness (2017).
There has been a long-standing consolatio tradition in literature and philosophy, starting from Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae (523 AD), written when the statesman was in prison (and echoed more than two centuries later by Alain de Botton’s Consolations of Philosophy ), and the Consolatio literary tradition comprising consolatory speeches, essays, poems, and personal letters meant to allay the distress caused by the death of a loved one. Consolation has also been a crucial concern of the elegy in all its forms (traditional and modern, poetic and narrative). While the traditional elegy is described as a “poem of mortal loss and consolation” (Sacks 1987, 3), whose goal is to heal the wounds of grief and imitate the mourning process, the 20th-century emergence of its melancholic counterpart, the anti-elegy, strives “not to achieve but to resist consolation, […] not to heal but to reopen the wounds of loss” (Ramazani 1994, xi). Contemporary literature appears to be navigating between these two extreme postures, either envisaging art as a possible balm that may partly dissipate sorrow or “uncoupl[ing] consolation from distraction, appeasement, and soothing repair” (James 40). When Kazuo Ishiguro says that “art is a form of consolation”, he does not mean that it will comfort us but that it will “address some wound”. That wound will never heal but “you sometimes want to touch it or in some interesting way examine the wound again from time to time, have a relationship with it” (in Guignery, Novelists 2013, 57), and this probing of the wound is what literature can offer. In her philosophical essay/grief-memoir Time Lived, Without Its Flow (2012), the British poet and philosopher Denise Riley expresses her desire to identify a “literature of consolation” (112), a corpus of poetical, fictional and autobiographical works that could help the afflicted by giving them the sense of being part of a community.
If consoling implies “crossing a boundary” according to Michaël Foessel, it might be because consolation seems to unfold in the in-between on many levels: caught between the “before” and “after”, between loss and recovery, it interrogates the interplay between the individual and the community, the private and the public sphere. Consolatory literary works do not only address individual grief or loss but also collective ones, especially when countries or governments refuse to acknowledge or enquire into violent events or injustices. Literature may also constitute a place of consolation when public or legal processes fail to provide one. Contributors could therefore examine literary works that interrogate whether any consolation or comfort can be found in such public procedures as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, offers of reparations (which could be seen as the legal side of consolation), official apologies, commemorations, monuments, or other forms that may seem to prescribe an erasure of wounds. As noted by Ignatieff, “There are many other words we use, beside consolation, when we confront loss and pain” (6), be it solace, comfort (which may be transitory when consolation can be more enduring), compassion or empathy, all of which bear different nuances that need to be explored. What should also be investigated are the ethical limits of consolation in literature: is it acceptable, desirable or even possible to seek release from suffering via formal features? David James, for example, considers consolation “discrepant” in contemporary writing because of “the restive interplay between the solace afforded rhetorically or structurally by a text and the affective repercussions of its wrenching outcomes” (10).
The aim of our conference is to theorise, contextualise and exemplify consolation (its forms, limits and aporias) as a “critical tool” in contemporary British and postcolonial literatures. We welcome papers on fiction, poetry, drama and life-writing, with possible issues and forms to explore including, but not being limited to:
- the ability of literature to offer consolation
- consolatory genres and modes
- elegy/anti-elegy in poetic, narrative and theatrical form
- vulnerability, relationality and consolation
- consolation and the ethics of care / the ethics of alterity
- the ethical limits of consolation in literature
- literature as pharmakon (either medicine or poison) (Pieters 14)
- legal/public reparation as a form of consolation
- being inconsolable or unconsoled, either as a refusal or failure of consolation, a temporary or lasting condition
- the politics of (in)consolation
Proposals of up to 300 words in English, together with a biographical note, should be sent to
- Vanessa Guignery (firstname.lastname@example.org),
- Diane Gagneret (email@example.com) and
- Héloïse Lecomte (firstname.lastname@example.org)
by 30 November 2022.
- Diane Gagneret (email@example.com),
- Vanessa Guignery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- and Héloïse Lecomte (email@example.com)
(Posted 22 September 2022)
Wanderings of the Subject, Wanderings of the Novel: For a Comparative Approach of Novelistic Innovations Between 1890 and 1939
Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), 20-21 April 2023
Deadline for proposals: 15 October 2022
“Alles Ständische und Stehende verdampft ” wrote Marx and Engels in their famous manifesto. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” wrote William Butler Yeats in a poem considered as emblematic of Anglo-Saxon poetic modernism . Critics have identified a series of upheavals which, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, caused certainties to collapse, what was established to weaken, and what was once taken for granted to evaporate. One can think of industrialization and the Great War (both of which led to social and personal alienation); of Schopenhauerian and Nietzschean assaults on the Cartesian cogito; of psychological and psychoanalytical discoveries that established new maps of the psyche; of the awareness of the epistemic limits of science; of the crisis of language, etc. Many early-20th-century’s literary manifestations illustrate how art reacts and answers to such mutations, for instance by calling into question the traditional forms of the European realist novel.
As it is impossible to consider all the aspects entailed by this change of episteme, this conference will pay attention to one macro-change in particular: that of the re-evaluation of the concept of identity, of the subject, at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of the above-mentioned events, the conception of the subject found in many creators’ works has come to bear an unstable appearance, which consequently affects the form of the texts. Lost to themselves in a changing world that they no longer grasp either through language or science, modern individuals are implicitly and ontologically summoned to reconstruct themselves, to “find a language, a form”, even though it has to be the formless, as Arthur Rimbaud already put it in his 1871’s so-called “lettres du voyant”.
In this respect, can we say that the formal innovations that run through the literature produced between 1890 and 1939 strive to capture “that queer conglomeration of incongruous things” that constitutes “the modern mind ”? This is the hypothesis at the core of this two-day conference whose ambition is to question and examine the innovations stemming from this conceptual crisis. The privileged angle, less often considered for the period at hand , will be that of the novel, or perhaps more precisely of prose, since these new productions often show a more or less assumed endeavour to renew the genre by drawing on others, such as poetry (the critic Ralph Freedman, borrowing Hermann Hesse’s formula, describes certain works from this period as “lyrical novels”, a term reminiscent of Jean-Yves Tadié’s “récit poétique”) or theatre (Virginia Woolf was reluctant to call The Waves a “novel”, speaking of “playpoem” instead). One should also not forget to consider the numerous icono-poetic interactions that reflect visual arts’ influence on novelistic forms, or the power of fascination that the cinema and the new sound recording techniques (that emerged in the first decades of the 20th century) had on novelists, especially if it indeed helped them explore new says of expressing identity.
Ultimately, by interweaving external and internal approaches, the aim is to question the prose at the beginning of the 20th century by postulating an influence of this identity crisis induced by a series of major events, such as the Great War and the Freudian discoveries. The question will be how this crisis is translated in the works. What expedients and what forms does it take? What are the modifications of this subjectivity that have led the novel to draw inspiration from other genres (poetry, theatre, essays, etc.) or other mediums of expression (painting, music, etc.) to try to express it? Are there groupings to be made according to the authors’ geolinguistic situation? Do some of the labels used by national literary histories to describe the formal audacity of novels written between 1890 and 1939 work better than others to describe this identity crisis?
Within the framework of a historical poetics , we will then be able to question these innovations by reinserting them within the evolution of novelistic forms since the last third of the 19th century, when the first turn in the genre took place, notably under the influence of Huysmans. This kind of consideration will thus lead us to think of the production of the writers of the period as marked by different civilizational crises and to consider the way in which their practice of the novel has adapted to new ways of conceiving identity. What strategies enabled the authors to adapt to the tacit injunctions of an evolving field? Are the ruptures that split many writing careers during this period the consequence of both a crisis and a reconfiguration of identity, that of the author, as well as that of the novel?
This conference welcomes both monographic readings, dedicated to a particular author (regardless of her/his language of expression), and comparative or historical approaches, aiming to trace the evolution of a form. Proposals for papers (400 words max. in French or English), accompanied by a short bio-bibliographical note (10 lines), are due by 15 October 2022 at the following addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Event organised with the support of the Institut des Civilisations, Arts et Lettres of the UCLouvain.
 This quote was used by Marshall Berman for the title of his book on the experience of modernity, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity, London, Verso, 2010.
 William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming” , Michael Robartes and the Dancer, Churchtown Dundrum, The Cuala Press, 1921.
 To quote Virginia Woolf’s famous essay “The Narrow Bridge of Art”, Granite and Rainbow (ed. L. Woolf), New York, Harcourt, Brace and Cie, 1958, p. 18.
 Émilien Sermier has recently shown to what extent, in France, the novelistic production of the inter-war period had been obscured by historiography. Cfr, Une Saison dans le roman. Explorations modernistes : d’Apollinaire à Supervielle (1917-1930), Paris, José Corti, 2022. In other linguistic areas, the question seems to have been considered more, notably by Moritz Baßler who focused on Germanic expressionist prose.
 The expression “historical poetics” (poétique historique) should be taken here in the sense used by Alain Vaillant, namely that of a literary history which would be “capable of giving the most detailed account of the evolution of the forms of writing” [our translation]. Cfr. L’Histoire littéraire, Paris, Armand Colin, 2017, p. 10. We are then not far from the attention that critics like Michel Murat or Gilles Philippe pay to the evolution of artistic forms.
(Posted 6 October 2022)
Humanity / Humanities
Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland), 20-22 April 2023
Paper proposals by 31 December 2022
Event organised by
- Monika Coghen
- Aleksandra Kamińska
- Olga O’Toole
- Paper proposals to be submitted by 31 December 2022
- Notifications of acceptance by 31 January 2023
Inaugurated in 1978, April Conference is a triennial international event bringing together scholars working in various fields of English and American Studies. We welcome papers on literature, general and applied linguistics, translation and cultural studies, and teaching of English as a foreign language, addressing topics including, but not limited to, the following: literary texts in political contexts, appropriating literary texts in political debates, narratives of crisis and crisis in the humanities, workings of memory and trauma, humanistic approaches in language education, position and perception of English in the 21st century, linguistic landscapes and the global use of English, digital humanities. We welcome both general contributions and contributions to thematic sessions.
The following thematic sessions have been proposed:
- Medieval Studies and Medievalism
- Shakespeare 400 Years after the First Folio
- 18th-Century Textual Transplant(ation)s
- Narratives of Memory and Trauma
- Joyce and Humanism / Joyce and the Human in the 21st century
- Escape into Nature
- Human, Humanity and the Posthuman in Drama and Theatre
- The Reception of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
- Gender Studies, Masculinities Studies and Feminist Perspectives in Language and Literature
- The War in Ukraine: Stance, Identity, Leadership
- Health Knowledge and Online Communication
- Language Spread and Language Contact
- Academic Literacy and Oracy: Teaching and Researching
- English Language Teacher Competences
- Rae Armantrout (University of California, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 2010),
- David Cowart (University of South Carolina), Finn Fordham (Royal Holloway, University of London),
- Willy Maley (University of Glasgow), Willard McCarty (King’s College London),
- Virginia Pulcini (Università degli Studi di Torino),
- Barbara Seidlhofer (University of Vienna)
(Posted 17 November 2022)
Shakespeare and his Contemporaries Graduate Conference: Re-signifying myths in early modern English literature, language and culture
British Institute of Florence, Florence (Italy), 21 April 2023
Abstracts to be submitted by Sunday 8 January 2023
Shakespeare and his Contemporaries
The IASEMS Graduate Conference at the British Institute of Florence
Re-signifying myths in early modern English literature, language and culture
For Myth is at the Beginning of
Literature, and also at its End.
Jorge Luis Borges, Dreamtigers (1960).
Confirmed Keynote Speakers
PAOLA BASEOTTO (University of Insubria) and MICHAEL L. STAPLETON (Indiana University)
The 2023 IASEMS Graduate Conference at The British Institute in Florence is a one-day interdisciplinary forum open to PhD students and researchers who have obtained their doctorate within the past 5 years. Taking as its cue Francis Bacon’s De sapientia veterum (1609), in which the classical past is re-interpreted and fruitfully connected to the present, this year’s conference will focus specifically on the use of myth in early modern texts and culture in the British isles.
The conference will address the translation, adaptation and dissemination of myths; the different uses of myths in a variety of text-types, both literary and non-literary; the use of myth in both popular and élite contexts; the re-mediation and ideological re-purposing of myths.
We welcome papers adopting a variety of approaches to textual and non-textual sources. Considering that a number of scholarly contributions (Jauß 1971; Blumenberg 1985; Iyengar 2005; Carter 2011; Blair 2018; Butler and Bassler 2019; Raphael 2019; Boitani 2020; Mann 2021) have investigated the impact of myth on most genres and cultural expressions, the conference also aims to question how myths were revived and reinvented to shape new codes or to resist change.
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Classical mythology and early modern social/political phenomena
- Myths and legends in “high” and “low” forms of literary/cultural production ⎯ Textual and figurative representations of mythical figures
- Myth in early modern art: music, painting and sculpture
- Mythologies of colour and of race in the age of “new” geographical and scientific discoveries ⎯ The use of myth in early modern travel writing
- The language of mythology in pre-scientific/scientific writing
- Myths reinforcing or resisting stereotypical gender role; patriarchal appropriations of myths ⎯ Myths as obsolete literary devices: mocking myths and mythological figures in early modern popular culture
- The language of myth, myths about language
Candidates are invited to send a description of their proposed contribution according to the following guidelines:
- the candidate should provide name, institution, contact info, title and a short abstract of the proposed contribution (300 words for a maximum 20-minute paper), explaining the content and intended structure of the paper; please include both a short bibliography and a short biographical note; – abstracts are to be submitted by Sunday 8 January 2023 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com;
- notification of acceptance will be sent by Sunday 22 January 2023;
- each finished contribution should not exceed 20 minutes and is to be presented in English (an exception will be made for Italian candidates of departments other than English, who can give their papers in Italian);
- participants will be asked to present a final draft of the paper ten days before the Conference.
Speakers who are IASEMS members can apply for a mini-grant to go towards travel expenses: (http://www.iasems.org/?page_id=2).
For further information please contact Luca Baratta: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted 12 December 2022)
16th International IDEA Conference: Studies in English 26-28 April 2023
Cappadocia University, Cappadocia (Turkey), 26-28 April 2023
Deadline for abstract submissions: 30 November 2022
Founded in 2005, IDEA (English Language and Literature Research Association of Turkey) is the Turkish national association for English studies. As the only professional association in Turkey affiliated with ESSE (The European Society for the Study of English), IDEA aims at bringing together academics working in the fields of linguistics, literature, language teaching and cultural studies. The 16th IDEA Conference, which will be held on the basis of in-person participation only, will be co-hosted by the Department of English Language and Literature and the Department of English Translation and Interpreting, Faculty of Humanities, Cappadocia University.
Our conference accepts papers in a wide range of topics from many different fields of “Studies in English.” We invite individual papers in the following fields:
- English Literature
- Literatures in English
- Cultural and Critical Studies
- English Language Teaching
- Translation Studies
The official language of the conference is English.
Abstract/Short CV Submission
Please submit an abstract (max. 250 words) for a 20-minute presentation, including 3- 5 key words and a short CV (70-100 words) as a single Microsoft Word file (no PDF please) to the conference email address: email@example.com
Please include your full name, institutional affiliation (including country information), abstract title, and email address (not included in the 250-word text limit) at the top of the abstract file.
The deadline for abstract submissions is 30 November 2022.
The receipt of submissions will be acknowledged within 3 workdays. If you have not received a confirmation after 3 workdays, please contact Dr. Fatih Parlak at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer Review Process
All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed by two reviewers.
All accepted abstracts will be electronically published as a Conference Abstracts book and maintained on the conference website.
A separate call for submissions will also be issued soon after the conference to invite full text articles to be selected through double-blind peer review for an edited collection of essays to be published by Cappadocia University Press.
Conference Registration Fee: To be announced
All inquiries (other than abstract submission issues) should be addressed to Dr. Sinan Akıllı, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, Cappadocia University through the conference email address email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Deadline for abstract and short CV submission: Wednesday, November 30, 2022, 11:59 pm (GMT +3)
- Peer-review accept/reject decision notification: Friday, January 13, 2023, 11:59 pm (GMT +3)
- Program announcement: Friday, March 17, 11:59 pm (GMT +3)
- Early registration opening date: Monday, 16 January 2023, 00:00 am (GMT +3) Early registration end date: Friday, March 31, 2023, 11:59 pm (GMT +3) Late registration deadline: Monday, April 17, 2023, 11:59 pm (GMT +3)
Conference Location: The conference will take place on Mustafapaşa Campus, Cappadocia University, Nevşehir, Turkey.
Travel: Mustafapaşa Campus is conveniently accessed through two airports, Kayseri Airport and Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport, both of which are within 1-hour travelling distance (by taxi or shuttle service).
Accommodation: A list of the recommended accommodation options (hotels that Cappadocia University works with for similar events) will be announced by Monday, 16 January 2023, 11:59 pm (GMT +3).
For details of the conference, please follow the updates at: https://idea16.kapadokya.edu.tr
For information about Cappadocia University, please visit the university’s official website: https://kapadokya.edu.tr/en/
(Published 8 Sept. 2022)
Culture and Cognition in Language 3: Figurativeness in language and beyond
University of Rzeszów (Poland), 27-28 April, 2023
Deadline for proposal submissions: 31 December 2022
Event organised by
- dr Bożena Duda
- dr Anna Dziama
- dr hab. prof. UR Robert Kiełtyka
- dr hab. prof. UR Ewa Konieczna
- dr Beata Kopecka
- dr Marcin Kudła
University of Rzeszów
Al. mjr W. Kopisto 2b
35-315 Rzeszów, Poland
We invite proposal submissions for 20-minute presentations. Abstracts of a maximum 300 words (excluding references) should be submitted by December 31, 2022 through the EasyChair system (https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=ccl3 ). Notification of acceptance will be sent by January 15, 2023.
We would like to invite academics specialising in a variety of linguistic fields, both synchronic and diachronic, and contributions in the following research areas will be especially welcome:
- cognitive linguistics
- cultural linguistics
- contact linguistics
- media studies
- philosophy of language
While we will especially appreciate presentations aligned with the theme of the conference, we are open to papers on all topics discussing language from the cultural and cognitive perspective.
Confirmed keynote speakers:
- Prof. Charles Forceville, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Prof. Elżbieta Górska, University of Warsaw, Poland
- Prof. Zoltán Kövecses, Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary
- Prof. Jordan Zlatev, Lund University, Sweden
(Posted 10 November 2022)