As If, But Differently: Meditations on the Realisms of Our Times.
St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia (Bulgaria), 1-2 December 2023.
Deadline for submissions: 1 May 2023.
A forum dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Department of English and American Studies & the 135th anniversary of St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia
An event organized by
Dr. Alexandra Glavanakova
Dr. Alexander Popov
Dr. Rayna Rossenova
The anthropologist Andrea Ballestero writes in A Future History of Water – an ethnography of various efforts to make access to water a human right – that the “practice of making a difference without resorting to radical difference or the Otherwise is a project that entails committing to the world as it is, but differently” (Ballestero 2019). This equates to giving up the dream of “stepping outside of what is” and, instead, engaging subversively with the as is, with the material-semiotic specificities that structure the world and delineate potentialities for change.
Taking inspiration from Donna Haraway’s creative wordplay on the abbreviation sf – Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulations, String Figures, So Far – we might extend her series with another playful member: aS iF (Haraway 2016). Speculative fictions imagine an as-if framework within which one can begin to deconstruct the current socio-political imaginary and to reconstruct new ones, new ways of being. A convergence of these two methods – of as-is and as if – might therefore be captured by the synthetic phrase “as if, but differently”: imagining a fictional Otherwise that is actually an instrument for uncovering hidden knots of tension in the real world and for coming up with stories that knot differently in the material-semiotic here and-now, to borrow once more from Haraway’s work.
Science fiction is one the realisms of our times, according to SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson (Robinson and Feder 2018), and perhaps the contemporary situation of overdetermined crises calls for multiple new realisms: to be able to represent reality as if the world actually is in danger of coming to an end; as if nonhumans are indeed sentient and might possess their own narrative perspective, and even voice; as if monstrosity is really rooted in history and not in metaphysics; as if another world is possible even if we cannot start from scratch on a utopian island. These new realisms must come to terms with what Amitav Ghosh has called “the great derangement” – humanity’s collective inability to come to terms with large-scale changes in climate and the biosphere, or rather the inability of dominant cultural forms to narrativize our being in a sane way that bolsters our chances for survival and for thriving in a complexly interconnected global world (Ghosh 2018).
We invite scholars and students to meditate together on the capacity of literary and cultural artefacts to provide new ways of thinking realistically about our changing world. This might mean science fiction becoming almost indistinguishable from the imminent reality of a climate changed Earth, as in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future (2020), or the mechanics of the bourgeois realist novel being exapted to tell a fundamentally different story – that of forests, as in Richard Powers’ The Overstory (2018); it might mean retooling epic fantasy to tell stories of oppression and rebellion, as in N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series (2015–7), or retooling horror – for the purposes of destabilizing the figure-ground matrix that typically characterizes humanity’s perceived relation to the environment, as in Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation (2014). The Gothic, magical realism, postmodernism, mythological fiction – any as if fictional framework can in our present times be thought of as capable of going beyond mere representation, of becoming an apparatus for grasping the as-it-is reality of the world in surprising and productive ways (Wark 2016).
Under an “as if, but differently” approach, the study of the genealogy of genres and forms becomes invested with a renewed sense of urgency. Such a study might focus on the various discursive forces that shape fiction and their unceasing entwining; and this in turn might entail a literary sociology of the contact between these discursive practices. The “contact zones” (Pratt 1991) where these practices meet are inevitably structured by relations of power, but they also lead to novel and unexpected assemblages (Haraway 2008). Such contact zones in literary and cultural products are potentially present at any event of hybridization and of attempting to imagine differently at the site where discursive practices and communities meet anew: in speculative nonfiction and science fiction; in indigenous futurisms such as Afrofuturism; in fanfiction and hypertext fiction, and surely in fiction co-written with large language models like GPT-3 and ChatGPT that subvert the formal and aesthetic foundations of the literary text. Modeling as-if genres and modes by basing one’s analysis in the history of contact zones makes theory itself more interesting and useful: such theory is justified in its aspirations to study not only literary and cultural forms, but also the forces that produce them and that they in turn mobilize to produce changes in the world. In short, thinking “as if, but differently” invites us to meditate on the totality of our world and its future histories, of which stories are an integral part.
Research topics (may include but are not limited to):
- science fiction and other speculative fictions as a “hybrid genres,” their genealogies, current and potential uses;
- reappropriation and/or exaptation of established literary forms;
- enhanced literature, digital-born literature;
- climate fiction and environmental fiction;
- utopian literature;
- “realistic” representations of nonhumans and of human enhancement; • stories about/by artificial intelligence;
- indigenous futurisms;
- feminist speculative fiction;
- queer speculative fiction;
- interactive fiction;
- speculative nonfiction.
Submission types: papers (15 minutes), panels (1 hour and 15 minutes), artistic installations, performances, and readings of original work on the event’s theme. |
Deadline for submissions: 1 May 2023
Confirmation of acceptance: 30 June 2023
Submissions must include:
- First name and family name of the presenter
- Institutional affiliation of the presenter
- Presenter’s email address
- The title of the proposed paper/panel/performance/reading
- A 350 words’ abstract of the proposal
- A 200 words’ biographical note of the presenter
Proposals to be submitted to: email@example.com
The official language of the conference is English.
The event will be held in person only.
Regular fee: 40 EURO
Reduced fee (doctoral students): 20 EURO
Students (at the BA or MA level): free
(Posted 25 February 2023)
Uncovering British Chinese Cultures.
Technische Universität Dresden (Germany), 2-3 December 2023.
Deadline for abstracts: 25 May 2023.
In current academic work, the British Chinese perspectives are predominantly characterised by their absence. Only a single collection of articles dealing with the topic, Ashley Thorpe and Diana Yeh’s Contesting British Chinese Culture (2018), has been published to date. Considering the long tradition of ethnically Chinese migration to the UK and the many generations of British Chinese living in the UK, it is, therefore, fair to state that they still represent an ‘invisible minority’ in British Cultural Studies.
One reason for this remarkable absence might lie in the British definition of the term ‘Asian’. While in the United States, the term includes people with East Asian heritage, the British term applies exclusively to people from South Asian extraction (Thorpe & Yeh 3), which means that anthologies and collections about British Asian writing usually do not contain a single contribution by British Chinese writers. Instead, these have to be found in publications specifically focussing on British East Asian writers. Moreover, the number of publications with a specific focus on British Chinese cultural production remains low. Only in 2018 did Jingan Young publish a collection of exclusively British East Asian plays entitled Foreign Goods: A Selection of Writing by East Asian Artists, followed in 2019 by Cheryl Robson, Amanda Rogers and (again) Ashley Thorpe’s collection of British East Asian Plays. These two publications are the first, and as yet only, anthologies of their kind – for any genre of British East Asian writing.
While this conference employs the term ‘British Chinese’, this is used with an awareness of its problematic implications, since it seeks to group together human beings with highly divergent backgrounds and racialises ‘Chineseness’. However, the term also highlights the specific forms of exclusionary and discriminatory practices and discourses targeted at this particular minority that have a long tradition in Britain, and which differ from those faced by other British minority groups. We therefore, utilise Thorpe and Yeh’s definition of ‘British Chinese’ as “a contested political construction”, which “emphatically does not refer to any natural or given ‘identity’ or ‘community’ but has been both mobilized by and imposed onto cultural practitioners in the context of specific struggles over racial marginalization and invisibility” (6).
This observation is the rationale for the central concern of this conference with visibility. Specifically, the conference will address the following questions: Why is it that British Chinese cultural practitioners and their work are so notably absent from scholarly inquiry? Why is it that British Chinese individuals become only visible in public discourse “in the context of […] an ethnic niche of restaurant and takeaway businesses” (ibid. 2)? The question of media representation and visibility has to be asked with renewed fervour after the first waves of the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly rendered British Chinese very visible in the public eye; however, not as part of a multiethnic Britain, but as targets of racist attacks. Racist narratives of the ‘yellow peril’, the ‘red threat’ or the subversive ‘model minority’ have resurfaced in quality and quantity, unprecedented in the 21st century.
This conference, therefore, seeks to make British Chinese perspectives visible and to bring these into focus with contributions that address topics including – but not restricted to – the following:
- definitions/contestation of terminology ‘British Chinese’, ‘British East Asian’ etc. migration to the UK / to East Asia
- generational conflict in British Chinese artistic productions
- media representation of British Chinese culture
- (re)definition of often racialised spaces, e.g. Chinatown, the Chinese takeaway racism and discrimination, e.g. Covid-19
- stereotyping and sinophobia, e.g. ‘Yellow Peril’
- British Chinese media adaptations of historic events, e.g. the Opium Wars discourses of in/visibility
- queer British Chinese identities
- British Chinese culture and gender
- British Chinese culture and class
If you are interested in participating, please send an abstract of approx. 250-300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 25th.
The conference organisers are Judith Neder, M.A., (Technische Universität Dresden), Dr Ivan Stacy (Beijing Normal University), and Prof. Cornelia Wächter (Technische Universität Dresden).
Works Cited Thrope, Ashley and Diana Yeh. “Introduction: Contesting British Chinese Culture.” Contesting British Chinese Culture, edited by ibid., Palgrave, 2018, pp. 1-31.
(Posted 27 April 2023)
University of Craiova (Romania), event to be held online. 7-8 December 2023.
Deadline for submission proposals: 23 November 2023
Event organised by
The Department of British, American, and German Studies, Faculty of Letters, University of Craiova, in partnership with The Romanian Society for English and American Studies (RSEAS) and The European Society for the Study of English (ESSE)
Presentation of the event
“There is a danger (or an illusion) of conceptualising translation (and the translator) in monolithic or universal terms, by giving priority or even exclusive domination to our own concept” (Gambier, 2018: 19). Acknowledging the complex and changing nature of translation practices and translation studies, we have to note that translation has become ambiguous, and that this ambiguity reverberates on other related concepts such as text and context / environment. “In three decades, a new work environment has shaken up the translator’s world. New types of translators are emerging, with a new hierarchy between them, in parallel with a multiplication of labels created for translation” (Gambier and Kasperė, 2021).
- Prof. dr. Yves GAMBIER, Professor Emeritus at University of Turku, Finland
- Prof. dr. Ramunė KASPERĖ, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania
- Prof. dr. Nadina VIȘAN, University of Bucharest, Romania
Sections / topics:
- Translation studies: vantage points
- Collaborative translation
- Multimodal translation
- Fan translation
- Creative translation
- Translation and transcreation
- Translation in other disciplines
- Translation and technical writing, revision, and post-editing
Professor hab. Titela Vîlceanu, PhD, Conference coordinator
(Posted 15 July 2023)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, text and images.
Maison de la Recherche de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 4, rue des Irlandais, Paris (75005). 7-9 December 2023.
Deadline for submission of proposals: 20 June 2023
Event organised as a partnership between the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, the Université de Lorraine, the Université de Perpignan, the Centre d’Etudes Médiévales Anglaises (Sorbonne Université) and the Association des Médiévistes Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur.
Presentation of the event
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an entertaining, intriguing and vibrant work, full of images and visual representations, a source of learning and initiation which continues to give rise to the most varied interpretations. Descriptions are given pride of place, without disrupting the adventurous narrative or presenting themselves as conventional purple patches. The work has been ‘translated into pictures’ in many ways, starting with the composition of the manuscript itself (ca 1400), with four full-page illustrations related to the poem, that combine humour and realism. Illustrations also appear in many modern adaptations of the work for children’s literature, or in editions meant for an adult readership (e.g. Theodore Silverstein’s translation with engravings by Virgil Burnett, 1974). The verse narrative has been adapted into several films, the most recent being David Lowery’s The Green Knight (2021). In France, painter David Balade has dedicated a series of paintings to the poem based on the theme of vegetality (https://www.davidbalade.fr/); indeed, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight appears to be a founding work for the eco-critical approach in English-language literature. It is also a masterful work within the alliterative tradition, which had never entirely disappeared since Old English poetry. The questioning of the chivalric ideal invites a reflective look at the stereotypes attached to the Arthurian tradition.
The poem and the film are the subject of a question on the syllabus for the 2024 agrégation externe d’anglais; the poem is studied in a bilingual edition which offers a translation into modern English by poet Simon Armitage, who is as familiar with medieval works as he is with very contemporary themes.
Among the many possibilities, here are a few avenues of research that could be considered:
- images, imagination, the imaginary in the poem ;
- literarity, orality, theatricality;
- remanence and impermanence; ideal and fracture; play and seriousness…
- SGGK and the eco-critical perspective;
- place and space, the narrative construction of space;
- spirituality and physicality;
- Simon Armitage’s translation: restitution / transformation of the poem;
- the relationship between the text and the images in the manuscript;
- the ‘translation into pictures’ in the context of an illustrated modern edition;
- paintings based on the poem as independent works;
- the poem and its filmic adaptations;
- the film The Green Knight, as an independent work, or analysed through its links with the Arthurian world (literature, films, series, or even video-games);
- Deadline for submission: June 20, 2023
- Event: December 7-9, 2023
- Submission of the final paper for immediate online publication: December 20, 2023
(Posted 3 June 2023)
Winter Doctoral Symposium.
Nova University Of Lisbon. 11-12 December 2023.
Deadline for proposals: 31 August 2023.
Venue: Nova University Of Lisbon, School Of Social Sciences And Humanities, Colégio Almada Negreiros, Lisbon.
Date: 11th-12th of December 2023
We are pleased to announce a Winter Doctoral Symposium, to be held on 11th-12th of December 2023 at NOVA University of Lisbon. This symposium intends to bring together doctoral candidates and early-career researchers from various academic fields to discuss their work or other topics related to literatures and cultures in English. This Doctoral Symposium will serve as a platform for networking and sharing experiences as early career academic researchers in a supportive and collaborative environment.
We welcome paper proposals that explore a range of topics in the areas of literature and culture in the English language. Proposals for papers can relate, but are not limited, to the following topics:
- Contemporary British and American literature and culture
- Interdisciplinary approaches to literature and culture
- Anglo-Portuguese Studies
- Global literatures in English
- Postmodern and postcolonial perspectives on literature and culture
- Queer Studies and LGBTQ+ literature
- Ecocriticism and environmental humanities
- Intersections between science, literature, and culture
- African American literature and culture
- Asian American literature and culture
- Diaspora and migration in literature and culture
- Literary adaptations and transmedia narratives
- Intersections between videogames, literature, and culture
- Digital Humanities and literature
- Translation Studies
- Literature and popular culture
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and we welcome innovative and interdisciplinary proposals on any topic related to literatures and cultures in English.
- Proposals for 20-minute papers should be submitted to email@example.com by the 31st of August 2023.
- Submissions must include an abstract (between 250-300 words) and a brief biographical note (max. 150 words), including the participant’s name, affiliation, and email address.
- Participants may present their 20-minute papers either in English or Portuguese. • Notification of acceptance will be sent by the 15th of September. • Accepted presenters will be required to register and pay a conference fee (15€).
We look forward to receiving your paper proposals! Should you have any inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Teresa Pereira (CETAPS – FCSH/NOVA)
- Margarida Vale de Gato (CEAUL/ULICES – FLUL)
- Alice Carletto (CETAPS – FCSH/NOVA)
- Ana Brígida Paiva (CETAPS – CSH/NOVA)
- Carlotta Pisano (CETAPS – FCSH/NOVA)
- Cidalia Barbosa (CETAPS – CSH/NOVA)
- Jéssica Bispo (CETAPS – FCSH/NOVA)
- Mariana Cruz (CETAPS – FCSH/NOVA)
- Rui Mateus (CETAPS – CSH/NOVA)
- Sheila Brannigan (CETAPS – FCSH/NOVA)
(Posted 1 August 2023)