Calls for papers – Conferences taking place in November 2020

Keeping silent, listening, speaking up: voice and silence in audience-response to arts and literature
Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France. New dates: 3-5 November 2021
New deadline for proposals: 4 January 2021

The conference “Keeping silent, listening, speaking up:  voice and silence in audience-response to arts and literature”, initially scheduled at Université de Lorraine (Nancy) on 4-6 November 2020, has been postponed until 3-5 November 2021.
Submission deadline has been put off until January 4th 2021.
Please send abstracts to Claudine Armand ( and Diane Leblond (

In most Western cultures the convention has been that those who receive a work of art do so quietly: whether we look at readers, cinema goers or audiences attending live performances (in the theatre, the opera, …), silence appears as a common denominator and a primary condition of reception. However, contemporary artistic practices often work to challenge this prerequisite, as does a significant portion of academic research into matters of reception. What such work suggests is that audiences can never be considered as perfectly silent agencies. Their voices have a part to play within aesthetic processes – before and after the moment of encounter with a piece, but also in many cases during that very encounter, at the heart of the aesthetic experience itself. The aim of the conference Keeping silent, listening, speaking up: voice and silence in audience-response to arts and literature is to explore the issue of reception through the specific phenomenon of the spectator’s voice, which only exists and can only be understood in its dialectic tension with silence. We therefore invite our colleagues to listen to those silent and loud intervals that are among the primary components of any audience’s embodied response to a work of art.

This international conference organised by the members of the research pole « Voices and Silence in the Arts » from IDEA (Interdisciplinarity in Anglophone Studies), as well as members from the CERCLE, CRULH, and LIS labs at the University of Lorraine, and from the ERIBIA research team at University of Caen-Normandy, is part of a transdisciplinary project which has been investigating the dialectics of voice and silence in the arts since its inception in 2016. Besides its biannual seminar, the project convened a first international conference at the University of Lorraine in 2017 (14-17 June in Nancy), which focused on the processes of emission and utterance. The tension between voice and silence was approached through an understanding of vocal emission and breath, and an exploration of transitions between and intertwining of voices and silence, in literature as well as film, theatre, music, and in visual and performance arts. This led to the publication of a collection of essays entitled Voix et silence dans les arts : passages, poïèsis et performativité (2019). The aim of this second conference is to examine the issue from the complementary perspective of reception.

Despite conventional perceptions of silent readers and spectators, the notion that reception cannot be passive is well documented. Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology (1945) already proposed a theory of perception as activity. Within the field of semiotics, Umberto Eco theorised the ‘interpretive cooperation’ of the reader (1959). Theoreticians of reception from the Constance School, such as Jauss and Iser, paved the way for further investigation into how reception contributes to and shapes literary history. Before them, happenings by Dada forcefully and iconoclastically demonstrated the part that audiences have to play in the act of creation. More recently, Jacques Rancière has also contributed to deconstructing the ancestral image of audiences as passive receptacles by highlighting the work of a spectator who always observes, compares, interprets, and ‘makes his poem with the poem that is performed in front of him’ (‘The Emancipated Spectator’, Artforum, March 2007). Already in 1960 Marcel Duchamp stated his conviction that a painting was a product of the onlooker’s work as much as the artist’s. It is also clear that the reader or spectator is not an abstract entity, but is defined by an embodied condition which plays a crucial part in the act of reception. This was one of the most important conclusions that could be drawn from the practice of happenings and performance art. After a significant amount of research focused on the body of the artist, inspired in part by sociological approaches to creation, more recent work has turned to the bodies of those encountering the work of art. Among articles testifying to the emergence of this academic concern are Serge Proust’s investigations into the body of the spectator in the theatre (2005), and Anne-Marie Picard’s psychanalytical approach to the body of the reader (2010).

This conference on Keeping silent, listening, speaking up: voice and silence in audience-response to arts and literature means to apprehend the question of reception by bringing together an understanding of the act of reception and an analysis of our embodied condition as consumers of art. Its aim is to explore the physical manifestation of audiences’ active response as vocal outbursts alternate with moments of silently welcoming what is being presented. It will apprehend the act of reception from the perspective of those two indissociable, concrete phenomena that are voice and silence. The reader or spectator, envisaged as active and embodied subjects, will be seen to keep their peace and raise their voices, alternatively and inseparably.

Topics might find some articulation with, but must by no means be restricted to, the following guidelines:

Questions concerning readers/viewers and reception cultures. In opting for diachronic and intercultural approaches, it will be possible to examine the evolution of the spectator’s/auditor’s/reader’s status and how he/she may have been compelled by literature and the other arts to remain silent or to be vocal. Looking at the contexts in which spectators or readers have been required to remain silent, it will be seen to what extent reception studies have apprehended the historical and cultural conditions that have favoured certain attitudes towards the spectator’s/reader’s right to express himself. Attention will be paid to the conventions that established and modified the attitude of the spectator in front of the play or the text, by more or less restricting his/her freedom of speech. The way these collective histories interact with individual stories and how they affect the spectator’s/reader’s training and education will also be investigated.

From an historical perspective, Western drama has more often been intended for spectators free to express themselves vocally than for spectators reduced to silence (one need only think for instance of Greek drama, Elizabethan drama or the ‘théâtre de la foire’ in Paris). The norm of the silent spectator, which became the prevalent mode in Europe in the late nineteenth century, generated a clear-cut dialectical relationship between the rule of silence and the transgressive breaking of that rule. It is that very norm that needs to be questioned and put into perspective. Similarly, if the issue is addressed on a diachronic scale, it appears that the act of reading was long regarded as an oral and collective activity, more than as a silent and solitary one. In his Histoire de la Lecture, Alberto Manguel reminds us of Saint Augustin’s surprise on discovering Saint Ambrose’s silent reading. He mentions Les Confessions as one of the first texts presenting reading as an interior and intimate activity, as opposed to the monastic tradition of reading aloud. That tradition involved the body thoroughly and completely, so that the text was literally incorporated through the reader’s eyes, mouth, hands and breath. In the nineteenth century, Flaubert’s famous ‘gueuloir’ when writing Madame Bovary – a genuine vocal feat! –, revealed the writer’s desire to anticipate the reader’s voice: ‘Poorly-written sentences do not stand up to this test [reading aloud]; they oppress the chest, disturb the heartbeat, and find themselves thus outside of the condition of life’, he said. In the entirely different context of African American and Caribbean cultures, the participative relation modified the attitude towards reading by presenting the participative mode of reception as the normal one. It is a well-known fact that the reader also gives life to the text with his voice and his silences. As Barthes used to say, it is the role of the ‘reader-producer’ to construct another text through his reading. The conference will thus be the occasion to examine the role of voice and of silences in this process.

What the observer/listener/reader says – or does not say – about the work of art. Examining the audience’s silent or vocal response. How we respond to a work of art, vocally or silently, is a rather complex question to unravel. Responses can range from the clearly-defined, ‘a-posteriori’, critical discourse of the reviewer or other critic, to the more spontaneous, unmediated act of reception, experienced intimately and inwardly. Between these polar opposites, various degrees of critical or aesthetic reception can be envisaged from the perspective of the interplay between voice and silence.

In the performing arts, vocal responses can be unexpected or inappropriate, as in the case of the notorious mayhem provoked by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. But they can also be deliberately provoked as in Dadaists events. Sometimes, they are simply part and parcel of the performance itself, like the recorded applause edited into the soundtrack of sit-coms. Be that as it may, performance venues can be seen as aesthetic spaces, where scenic and pro-scenic voices and silences jostle or attempt to neutralize each other. There are specific moments, peripheral to a performance, during which spectators can express their responses. The intermission is a case in point: it can be seen as a ‘political moment’ (Badiou) when the spectator feels free to break out of his or her silent bubble, to communicate with other spectators, before returning to the customary silence of performance-experiencer. Shows, spectacles, performances or public readings often allow time in their programs for audiences to take part in debates, discussions or other view-sharing forums, and yet the very same audiences are expected to keep their peace during the performance. These instances, in which spectators who had previously been expected to keep silent are encouraged to express themselves audibly and forcefully, deserve also to be investigated from the point of view of the relation voice/silence.

Beyond the performing arts, other art forms are equally concerned by the dynamics of silent/vocal audience reception. Frederic Wiseman caught on film the silent scrutiny or murmurings of the visitors pacing along the corridors of the National Gallery, either alone or following the Museum guide’s explanations (National Gallery, 2014). In this respect, it would be of interest to consider how voice and silence interact against the background of ambient noise or musings of crowds in museums or other exhibition places, but also in casual talk, in press and radio reviews and in academic institutions or even in adaptations seen as a reaction or response to one of these works. From this point of view, it would be possible to go so far as to reflect on those moments when reception, formulated and communicated through different channels – the media, or academic and artistic channels – becomes itself an object of mass consumption, thus raising, in a new interaction between discourse and readers, listeners or spectators, the question of the dialectical relationship between the voices and silences involved in reception.

What the spectator’s/auditor’s voice and silences do in the work and to the work: for a poiesis of reception. Finally, we will look at the multiple ways in which the voices and silences of the receiver contribute to the creative process. In many cases, they are a structuring element of the work produced. The use of Call & Response in the gospel is only a particularly visible example, as are performance poetry, slam poetry and other practices of orality during which the spectator can react at any time. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which contemporary artists and writers bring into play and stage the voices and silences of the spectators as integral parts of the work. John Cage’s 4 ’33’ ’is the most famous instance of this contemporary trend. In her performance The Artist Is Present, Marina Abramovic creates the conditions for a silent face to face interplay during which glances are exchanged between herself and each of the participants, a type of performance which creates a disturbing counterpoint to the civilization of commentary (Steiner) which piles up discourses and mediation between the work and those who might be confronted with it. In Bruce Nauman’s sound and immersive installations, the spectator’s body is tested physically and mentally by the space in which he/she moves, as in Corridor or in Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of this Room where he/she is assailed from all sides by an impersonal, injunctive and insistent voice. In Sleep No More (Punchdrunk Company, 2011), an emblematic example of promenade theatre, the spectator, who is masked and free to move but invited to remain silence, steps into the fiction as an anonymous but embodied gaze, as a wandering spectre and a silent presence which is disturbing for other spectators. Finally, the contemporary vogue of ‘participatory’ shows, which aim to revive the relationship between actors and spectators, deliberately creates moments when the spectators can speak or sing. This is illustrated, for example, by participatory operas (at Rouen opera, most particularly) and by contemporary immersive theatre (Closer by Patrick Marber, Compagnie du Libre Acteur, DAU). Other illustrations are the recording of people’s experience of listening to music, a project carried out by the members of the LED project (The Listening Experience Database, 2014, a collaborative project between the Open University, the Royal College of Music and the University of Glasgow), and the presence and exchange mechanisms in corporal cinema (Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki).

The spectator’s voices and silences are also a first-rate material for fiction-making operations which make possible a reflection on the dialogue between the work and its receivers embedded in the work itself. The cinema often depicts spectators at the very moment when they are face to face with the screen. Nana’s entranced look when watching Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc in Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie (1962) is that of a talking character who remains temporarily silent in front of a silent film. Theatre also knows how to stage the words of spectators within the fiction itself: the irascible spectator of Eleutheria by Beckett (written in 1947, published in 1995), the anonymous viewers whose reactions after a show were collected by Jean-Claude Grumberg and made the subject of Sortie de théâtre (2000), the whimsical ‘Old lady in the first row’ who daydreams aloud and appears as the eponymous buffoon of Marion Aubert (Les Histrions, 2006). It is necessary to explore the forms and stakes of these creative gestures which, by staging the act of reception and its audible manifestations, bring the spectator out of the silent obscurity to which he seems to have been destined by a certain tradition of Western thought.

This conference invites researchers, theorists and practitioners (directors, filmmakers, performers, storytellers, etc.) and anyone interested in this issue to propose theoretical and practical studies on the voices and silences of receivers in literature and cinema, in the visual and performing arts.

For paper proposals, please send an abstract (500 words) and a short bio-bibliography (150 words) under Word to Claudine Armand and Diane Leblond :> and

Languages of the conference: English or French.

Submission dealine : May 3rd, 2020
Scientific Committee’s decision: June 4th, 2020

Keynote speakers
Mathieu Duplay (literature, Université Diderot-Paris 7)
Stéphane Ghislain Roussel (visual art, musicologist, curator, Luxembourg)

Invited artist
Tameka Norris (New Orleans, USA)

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Barlow, Helen, David Rowland (eds.). Listening to Music : People, Practices and Experiences. Milton Keynes: The Open University, 2017.
Barthes, Roland. Le Grain de la voix. Paris : Seuil, 1981.
Barthes, Roland. « Écoute ». L’Obvie et l’obtus. Paris : Éditions du Seuil, 1982.
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Bonniol Céline, Marie-Sylvie Poli. « Un monde particulier de réception : les effets de la familiarisation avec l’œuvre à travers le discours du spectateur ». Sociologie de l’Art, 13(3), 2008 : 49-68.
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Cage, John. Silence: Lectures and Writings. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961.
Château, Dominique (dir.). La Direction des spectateurs : Création et réception au cinéma. Paris : Impressions Nouvelles, 2015.
Chich, Cécile (dir.). Klonaris/Thomadaki. Le Cinéma corporel. Corps sublimes /Intersexe et intermédia. Paris : Éditions L’Harmatan, 2006.
Christie, Ian (dir.). Audiences. Amsterdam : University of Amsterdam Press, 2012.
Clarke, Eric. “The Impact of Recording on Listening”. Twentieth-Century Music, 4(1), 2007.
Clayton, Martin, Byron Dueck, Laura Leante (eds.). Experience and Meaning in Music Performance. Oxford University Press, 2013.
Corbin, Alain, Jean-Jacques Courtine, Georges Vigarello. Histoire des émotions. Volume 3, de la fin du XIXe siècle à nos jours. Paris : Editions du Seuil, 2017.
Dufrenne, Mikel. Phénoménologie de l’expérience esthétique. Paris : PUF, 1953.
Gräbner, Cornelia, Arturo Casas (eds.). Body, Place and Rhythm in the Poetry Performance. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011.
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Didi-Huberman, Georges. Devant l’image. Paris : Éditions de Minuit, 2004.
Freshwater, Helen. Theatre and Audience, London: Palgrave, 2009.
Hurley, Erin. Theatre and Feeling, London: Palgrave, 2010.
Horowitz, Seth. The Universal Sense : How Hearing Shapes the Mind. London: Bloomsbury Press, 2013.
Gelly, Christophe, David Roche. Approaches to Film and Reception Theories. Clermont-Ferrand : Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2012.
Guignery, Vanessa (ed.). Voices and Silence in the Contemporary Novel in English. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.
Jamain, Claude. La Voix sous le texte. Angers : Presses de l’Université d’Angers, 2002.
Jamain, Claude. L’Idée de la voix : études sur le lyrisme occidental. Rennes : Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris : Gallimard, 1976.
Fried, Michael. La Place du spectateur. Trad. Claire Brunet. Paris : Gallimard, 1990.
Iser, Wolfgang. L’Acte de lecture : Théorie de l’effet esthétique.  Bruxelles : Mardaga, 1985.
Jankélévitch, Vladimir. La Musique et l’ineffable. Paris : Éditions du Seuil, 1983.
Jauss, Hans Robert. Pour une esthétique de la réception, Paris, Gallimard, 1978.
Keen, Suzanne. Empathy and the Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Larrue, Jean-Marc, Marie-Madeleine Mervant-Roux. Le son du théâtre (XIXe-XXIe s). Histoire intermédiale d’un lieu d’écoute moderne, 2016.
Manguel, Alberto. Une Histoire de la lecture. Paris : Actes Sud, 2000.
Mitchell, W.J.T. Que veulent les images ? Une critique de la culture visuelle. Dijon : Les Presses du Réel, 2014.
Mondzain, Marie-José.  Homo Spectator. Paris : Bayard, 2007.
Notte, Pierre. L’Effort du spectateur. Paris : Les Solitaires intempestifs, 2016.
Nancy, Jean-Luc. À l’écoute. Paris : Galilée, 2002.
Oliveros, Pauline. Deep Listening : A Composer’s Sound Practice. New York : iUniverse, 2005.
Patoine, Pierre-Louis. Corps-texte : pour une théorie de la lecture empathique : Cooper, Danielewski, Frey, Palahniuk/Pierre-Louis Patoine. Lyon : Ens éditions, 2015.
Picard, Anne-Marie. « Corps de lecteurs : se donner à lire », in Marika Bergès-Bounez et Jean-Marie Gorget (dir.). Le Corps, porte-parole de l’enfant et de l’adolescent. Paris : ERES, Coll. « Psychanalyse et critique, 2011 : 161-178.
Proust, Serge. « La domestication du corps du spectateur », in Catherine Dutheil-Pessin, Alain Pessin, Pascal Ancel (dir.), Rites et rythmes de l’œuvre II. Paris, L’Harmattan, Coll. « Logiques sociales, » 2005 : 101-116.
Rabinowitz, Peter. “Audience”, Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Edited by D. Herman, M. Jahn and Marie-Laure Ryan, London, 2008.
Radbourne, Jennifer, Hilary Glow, Katya Johanson (eds.). The Audience Experience : A Critical Analysis of Audiences in the Performing Arts. Bristol : Intellect, 2013.
Rancière, Jacques. Le Spectateur émancipé, Paris : La Fabrique, 2008.
Ruby, Christian. Devenir spectateur ? Invention et mutation du public culturel. Toulouse : Éditions de l’Attribut, 2017.
Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies : An Introduction. London, New York: Routledge, 2002.
Szendy, Peter. Écoute. Une histoire de nos oreilles. Paris : Éditions de Minuit, 2001.
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Weber, William. “Did People Listen in the 18th Century ?” Early Music 25/4, 199 : 678-691.

Organizing Committee: Claudine Armand, Pierre Degott, Jean-Philippe Heberlé, Yannick Hoffert, Lucie Kempf, Diane Leblond, Jean-Marie Lecomte, Gilles Marseille, Barbara Muller, Marcin Stawiarski.

Scientific Committee:
Claudine Armand (Literature and American art, text/image, UL – Nancy)
Kathie Birat (American and Caribbean literature, UL – Metz)
Johan Callens (Theater, performance art, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Gilles Couderc (Text and music, 19-20th century, Université de Caen-Normandie)
Pierre Degott (Music 17-18th century, UL – Metz)
Jean-Philippe Heberlé (Text and music 20th-21st century, UL – Nancy)
Yannick Hoffert (Theater and French 20th century literature, UL – Nancy)
Lucie Kempf (Théâtre 20th-21st century, UL – Nancy)
Diane Leblond (British contemporary literature, visual culture, UL – Metz)
Jean-Marie Lecomte (American cinema, UL – Nancy)
Olivier Lussac (aesthetics, visual arts, UL – Metz)
Gilles Marseille (art history, contemporary period, UL – Nancy)
Marcin Stawiarski (Literature and music, Université de Caen-Normandie)
Patrick Van Rossem (art history, contemporary period), Utrecht University)

(posted 3 March 2020, updated 24 September 2020)

Capital and the Imagination: Literature, the Arts, and Modern Finance. Relational Forms V
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Porto, Portugal, 5 -7 November 2020
Deadline for proposals: 15 May 2020

Confirmed keynote speakers: David Hawkes (Arizona State University); Margaret Kelleher (University College Dublin)

‘Capital and the Imagination’ addresses the manner in which money and its manifestations in thought and experience have impacted the imagination of writers and artists, now as in past centuries, with some of its ultimate creative outcomes closely bound to tensions and perplexities that have shaped modernity and postmodernity.

The conference is grounded on a sharp historical awareness: western cultures were decisively transformed, in their socio-economic makeup as in their imaginative production, by that fundamental historical change from a land economy to a money economy which, with varying chronologies, played out across Europe from the late medieval through the early modern period. In some of its ensuing stages, over more than five centuries, this extended and momentous historical process has witnessed material gains that have benefited smaller or larger communities, but also fostered scenarios of crisis and disaster. Indeed, this conference takes one of those critical moments for its commemorative starting point: it marks the third centenary of the South Sea Bubble (1720), one of the first major financial scandals that proved the extent to which acquisitive dynamics could be mismanaged and bring disaster to its agents – but, above all, to its many victims.

‘Capital and the Imagination’ finds in such developments of the past an impulse and a pretext for considering the manifold ways in which the desires and practices proper to the money economy have shaped current cultures, with a particular emphasis on literature and the arts.

The organisers will welcome proposals for 20-minute papers in English responding to the above. Suggested (merely indicative) topics include:

  • money in fictions of success
  • money in fictions of disaster
  • money and laughter – the angle from satire
  • money, desire, disgust
  • capital and the theatre: comic and tragic conformations
  • cash and crash: staging success and collapse
  • capital, indulgence and decadence
  • making and unmaking money: performing finance – the material and the virtual
  • “living above their means”: representing life in a time of austerity
  • financial tropes in poetry: Mammon and the lyric
  • money, words and images: the intermedial perspective
  • mobile assets: filming finance
  • LIKE-ing it – or not: discourses of money in the social media
  • wealth and the commonwealth: money, politics and the imagination
  • extraordinary renditions: translation and the language of money
  • desires, acquisitive and otherwise: money, sex and the imagination

As indicated by the number in its title, this conference is the fifth in a series of academic events that reflect the ongoing concerns of the eponymous research group (Relational Forms), based at CETAPS (the Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies).

Submissions should be sent by email to

Please, include RF5 in the subject line of your email.

Please organise your proposal into two separate files:

  • a file containing the full title and a 250-300 word description of your paper;
  • a file containing the author’s data: name, affiliation, contact address, paper title and author’s bio-note (150 words).

Please name these two documents as follows:

Deadline for proposals: 15 May 2020
Notification of acceptance: 15 June 2020
Deadline for registration: 5 October 2020
Registration Fee: 80 Euros
Student fee: 65 Euros
Registration details will be posted online in July 2020
All delegates are responsible for their own travel arrangements and accommodation.

More information available later at

Organised by the Relational Forms research area

Executive Committee: Rui Carvalho Homem (coord.),  Jorge Almeida e Pinho,  Jorge Bastos da Silva,  Márcia Lemos,  Miguel Ramalhete Gomes

For further queries please contact:
CETAPS – Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto
Via Panorâmica, s/n
4150-564 PORTO

(posted 3 March 2020)

The Intermedial Work of art: Conception, Realisation, Performance, Reception, Preservation
Paris and Marne-la-Vallée, France, 5-7 November 2020
Deadline for proposals: 1 April 2020

Studio Théâtre Marigny,  Paris Champs-Elysée
Auditorium Maurice-Gross, Université Gustave-Eiffel, Marne-la-Vallée

Organized by
LISAA (EA 4120) and Université Gustave Eiffel, International Society for Intermedial Studies (ISIS),
Sorbonne University (IREMUS/Bnf/ CNRS, LAM/ UMR 8212).

ENS Louis-Lumière, Université de Montréal
Université de Rouen (GRHis EA 3831),
Université de Versailles-St-Quentin-en-Yvelines (CHCSC EA 2448)
aCROSS collective (Art, Création, Recherche, Outils, Savoirs Synesthésies)
Théâtre Marigny

The Organizing Committee:
Lenka Stransky (UGE-LISAA/GRHis Université de Rouen)
Martin Laliberté (UGE-LISAA)

Scientific Council
Christophe d’Alessandro (LAM), Miguel Almiron (LISAA), Maxime Boidy (LISAA), Olivier Brossard (LISAA), Pierre-Albert Castanet (GRHis), Jean-Marc Chouvel (IreMus), Carole Halimi (LISAA), Xavier Hautbois (CHCSC), Aurélie Huz (LISAA), Jean-Marc Larrue (UdM), Geneviève Mathon (LISAA), Giusy Pisano (ENS-LL).

Conference description

As a contribution to numerous theoretical and historical discussions on intermediality by   ISIS and its members, this conference aims to study the intermedial work of art through its different stages, from conception to reception, as well as the related matters of analysis and preservation.

With the introduction of new technologies and new media in the past fifty years, two main tendencies have characterized artistic creation. The first tendency explores the exchanges between artistic domains through the interaction of sound, image, and gesture, which can lead to a true osmosis between different types of perception. The second tendency leans toward the abolition of the distinction of “art” and “non-art”, through the aestheticization and dramatization of other cultural fields (mass-media, sports, politics…).

Thus, forms of art express themselves through the use of intermedial and intersensory phe- nomena, through multidisciplinarity and indisciplinarity (that is, the transgression of limits or boundaries between artistic domains), but also between different types of perception or even different social environments. In the face of such a plurality of approaches outside of clearly defined disciplines and aesthetics, it is necessary to develop a transverse approach to the analysis of interdisciplinary artistic practice and theory, as well as to the critical discourse that accompanies them. It is also necessary to define or develop concepts corresponding to such situations: the decline of the object, crises of languages, syntheses of arts and synaes- thesia, sensorial conjunctions, pluri-artistic environments, active participation, etc. In parallel to all that, it is also necessary to question the different ways of thinking about “non-art” and the significance of the aestheticization of culture.

New notions such as trans– and hyper-, media– or immedia manifest themselves in interme- dial work. The creation of the latter is also at the heart of digital computer creation, which has considerably enlarged original avant-garde conceptions, thus creating an epistemological change and the necessity of a deeper thinking—not theoretical, but anchored in the work itself, its existence, its ways of being in its different stages from conception, performance, and reception. On top of the transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary methods used, the “in- disciplinary” method, in the sense that Huys and Vernant give to the term (2012)—outside of conventional artistic genres, associated to the creators that voluntarily operate outside of any system—could also be an important path of investigation.

This leads to open questions which should be articulated with case studies in intermedial  art. What methodological tools would be necessary to conceive, actually create, and com- prehend such a particular artistic production as an intermedial work? What would be the de- fining characteristics of such a work of art and its practical realisation? What are its creative dynamics, and how do they differ from non-intermedial art? What are the specific problems of its conception, realisation, and performance? How can its different modes of reception be evaluated? What would be the proper analysis tools or the relevant taxonomies? What terminologies would be best suited to investigate such works? Rather than the traditional artistic conceptual vocabulary—perhaps too medium- or disciplinary-specific—this confe- rence could be a moment to discuss terminologies of the common multi-artistic processes involved. Last, since archive centres, libraries, and museums encounter numerous difficul- ties when confronted with such works (at worst, intermedial works of art are badly archived, badly presented, and even excluded from archival collections), this conference aims to ex- plore remedies to those difficulties.

This conference is organized around the following five themes:

  • Conception of the work and its theoretical foundations;
  • Realization and production (the work in the face of reality, archeology of media); Performance or presentation of the intermedial work;
  • Reception of the work, by the public as well as by the theoreticians and analysts; Archives of works, with their institutional, theoretical, and practical problems
  • We welcome, though do not restrict, proposals for papers that pertain to those lines of enquiry.

Keynote speakers
Jean-Marc Larrue (Université de Montréal, CRIalt – CRILCQ)
Nicola Cisternino (Composer and artist, Accademia delle Belle Arti Venezia)

The time for presentations is limited to maximum 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute debate.
Conference fee (which includes participation, conference buffet and banquet): 80 EUR, special fee (students, unemployed…): 50 EUR.
Please send an abstract (max. 250 words) and a short bio (max. 50 words) in a PDF attachment to:
Proposals should include your name, university affiliation (if applicable), academic status, and the title of your paper. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes.
The deadline for abstract submissions has been extended to 1st April 2020. Notification of acceptance will be communicated on 1st July 2020.

Suggested Bibliography

Roy Ascott, « Y a –t-il de l’amour dans l’étreinte télématique ? », in Annick Bureaud, Nathalie Megnan (dir.) Connexions-art, réseaux, media. Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 2002.
Auslander Philip, Glam Rock : la subversion des genres, Paris, La Découverte/La Rue musicale, 2015.
Ghislaine Azemard (dir.) 100 notions pour le crossmedia et le transmedia, Éditions de l’Immatériel, Paris, 2013.
Daniel Charles « De Joan Miro à Francis Miroglio, graphique de la projection », Cahiers du CREM, n° 6-7, décembre 1987 mars 1988, p. 9.
Jacques Donguy, 1960-1985. Une génération, Paris, Henri Veyrier, 1985. Morton Feldman,« Entre catégories », Musique en jeu, n°1, Seuil, 1970.
Stanley Gibb, « Understanding Terminology and Concepts Related to Media Art Forms », The American Music Teacher, avril-mai 1973, p. 24-25.
Clement Greenberg, The Collected essays and criticism, J. O’Brian (dir.), University of Chicago Press,1986, vol. 1.
Dick Higgins,« Intermedia », The Something Else Newsletter, vol. 1, n°1, février 1966 P 1 et 3, reproduced in Intermedia 69, Heidelberg, Verlag, Edition Tangente, 1969, also Jefferson’s Birthday Postface, New York, Nice, Cologne, Something Else Press, 1964.
Viviane Huys, Denis Vernant, L’Indisciplinaire de l’art, Presses Universitaires de France, 2012. Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, ed. A. Colin/ Ina, 2006 Rosalind Krauss, « La mort des compétences », in Où va l’histoire de l’art contemporain, Paris ENS des Beaux-Arts, 1997.
Richard Kostelanetz, Theatre of Mixed Means, Pitman Publishing, 1970.
Marshall McLuhan, Pour comprendre les média, Paris, Le Seuil, Coll. “Points”, 1968.
W.J.T. Mitchell, « There are no Visual Media », The Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 4, n°2, 2005. Harold Rosenberg, The De-Definition of Art, Collier Books, 1972.
Jonathan Sterne, Une Histoire de la modernité sonore, Paris, La Découverte/La Rue musicale, 2015.
Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literatur

(posted 11 December 2019)

Innovation in Language Learning International Conference – 13th edition
Virtual edition, 12-13 November 2020
New exended dealine for submisions: 20 October 2020

The event officially shifts to a Fully Virtual Conference.

The objective of the Conference is to promote transnational cooperation and share good practice in the field of the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to Language Learning and Teaching. The Innovation in Language Learning Conference is also an excellent opportunity for the presentation of previous and current language learning projects and innovative initiatives.

The Call for Papers is addressed to teachers, researchers and experts in the field of language teaching and learning as well as to coordinators of language teaching and training projects.

Experts in the field of language teaching and learning are therefore invited to submit an abstract of a paper to be presented in the conference.

New Extended Abstract Submission Deadline: 31 August 2020

All accepted papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings with ISBNISSN, DOI, ISPN codes. The Proceedings will be included in and indexed in Google Scholar. The Proceedings will be sent to be reviewed for inclusion in the Conference Proceedings Citation Index by Thomson Reuters (ISI-Clarivate). Selected papers will be indexed by Ei Compendex, SCOPUS (Elsevier), Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI – Web of Science).

Make your contribution to innovation in language learning, SUBMIT your paper now.

During the virtual conference:

  • Papers will be presented in virtual synchronous or asynchronous modes.
  • Interactive Questions and Answers sessions will follow each paper presentation.
  • Virtual Poster Presentation Sessions will be held.
  • Networking Opportunities will be organized.

For further information please check:

(posted 3 April 2020, updated 7 July 2020, updated 11 August 2020, updated 6 October 2020)

Taboo Topics in Foreign Language Education (Tabuthemen im Fremdsprachenunterricht)
Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany, 13-14 November 2020
Deadline for proposals: 1 June 2020


Christian Ludwig & Theresa Summer


We would like to invite researchers, educators, and practising teachers of ALL foreign languages to take part in our symposium.


We would like to address the topic taboo topics in foreign language education from a theoretical and practical perspective. Therefore, we welcome presentations with a practical and/or theoretical focus. The symposium aims to provide a platform for an exchange of theoretical concepts and practical ideas with the opportunity to publish a paper in a volume or practical journal.


  • Plenary talk by Dr John Gray, University College London, UK
  • Presentations by researchers/educators/teachers on a taboo topic
  • Poster presentations by students
  • Workshop: interactive slot for exchanging ideas

Thematic focus

In the context of education, taboos are often subsumed under the acronym ‘PARNSIP’: politics, alcohol, religion, narcotics, sex, isms, communism, and pork – topics that are commonly underrepresented in learning materials and textbooks. Moreover, only some materials have so far been published that specifically deal with taboo issues in (foreign) language education (MacAndrew/Martinez 2001, Linder/Majerus 2016). The focus is on theoretical and conceptual outlines in addition to practical applications and lesson sequences. Thus, we would like to provide teachers and learners with opportunities to get engaged with taboo topics that are central to their human experiences. We therefore welcome contributions on suitable taboo topics such as:

  • Cultural taboos: cultural norms, prejudices and stereotypes, racism, dietary taboos, taboo activities, religious and class conflicts, linguistic taboos
  • Relationships: ways of living together and apart, marriage, divorce, long-distance relationships, age gap relationships, objectophilia, LGBTQ families and adoption
  • Sex: sex education, STDs, HIV, cultural differences in sexuality, abortion
  • LGBTQ/gender issues: changing sex, personal identification, transgenderism
  • Consumerism: zero waste vs. mass consumption, out-of-hand consumerism, environmental risks, environmental footprint, boycotting/buycotting
  • Traditional and modern forms of violence: terrorism, gun-shootings, stalking, economic violence, organised violence, sexual and gender violence, cyberbullying
  • Drugs: use/distribution of drugs, health risks, legalising drugs
  • Addictions: workaholism, shopaholism, internet addiction disorder, sugar addiction
  • Human rights: prostitution/sex for sale, death penalty, right to death with dignity
  • Illnesses: eating disorders, depression, OCD, anxiety disorder

The aim of integrating taboo topics is not to enhance personal stress or fear. Rather than provoking extreme and very negative emotional responses or creating unwanted conflicts in the classroom, a focus should be on developing a greater understanding of particular topics from different cultural perspectives by, for instance, analysing news alerts and fictional or nonfictional texts or inspecting taboo language. The idea is to engage learners with the complex world that they are growing into and to support them in actively discussing perennial and critical issues that occur on a daily basis.


Please register by 01 June 2020 via email ( and indicate whether you would

  • option A) like to participate (with the possibility of teaming up with like-minded colleagues at the symposium to work on a project together)
  • option B) like to contribute in the form of a 30 min presentation (optionally in English or German).

If you would like to contribute, please attach a Word document to your registration with the following content: your name, institution/school, e-mail address, short bio, working title, short abstract (200 words).

Publication possibilities

After the symposium, we aim to publish a volume that addresses taboo topics in foreign language education from various perspectives.

(posted 17 February 2020)

Heaven and Nature
Corpus Christi College, Oxford, UK,  7 November 2020
New exded deadline for proposals: 30 June 2020

Now planned as a video conference with Zoom.

Humankind has ever been impressed by, and formed by, the natural world. The world’s beginning and end are a subject in numerous narratives. Ecocriticism addresses large scale concerns about anthropocene changes. In literary tradition there is a multiplicity of understandings, while Biblical religion has stated that God made both heaven and earth.

The CLSG interest is in Exploring Christian and Biblical themes in Literature.

Papers, which are also offered for publication as articles in The Glass, and eventually on the CLSG website, will have a reading time of about 20 minutes.

Email your application to register after reading the relevant pages on the website and only on 19-20 October to Dr Roger Kojecký,
Details at

(posted 7 Febuary 2020, updatd 20 May 2020, updated 11 August 2020)

Metaphors of Marginality and Otherness: 6th International Conference of TAELS (The Tunisian Association for English Language Studies
Hammamet, Tunisia, 20-21 November 2020
Deadline for proposals: 30 June 2020

In Memory of Prof. Tahar Labassi

The term “marginal” finds roots in the Medieval Latin word “marginalis”, which means on the margin or situated on the border or edge. First introduced by sociologist Robert Park in 1928, the concept was used to describe human migrants and shed light on the singularity of their situation as social beings removed from the center.

In a broader context, marginality not only describes the precarious position of disadvantaged groups systematically excluded from the social, cultural, political and economic spheres, but also helps construct and imagine the margins in their daily struggle. Marginality has long engrossed established scholars and researchers from different academic circles and pushed them to investigate its multiple facets.

Marginality touches upon the question of identity and human consciousness. The processes of self-identification and identification are tightly related to a dichotomous perception of the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’. In fact, self-awareness is organically related to the construction of ‘Otherness’ because the representation of the ‘Other’ is a determining component of the perception and definition of the self. These processes could also imply a complex system of devaluation of human groups identified as marginal. Obviously, the convergence of the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’ has most of the time elicited discourses of marginality centering on the proliferation of stereotypes, prejudices, and ethical issues in different research areas affecting thus identity construction.

The social construction of gender is a relevant example of how many societies shape identity, social status and social categories according to binary opposites. Gender relations are not natural. They do represent a hierarchy imposed on biological differences and thus showing the bias of power relationships between men and women. In her discussion of the issue of otherness, Simone de Beauvoir insisted on the hierarchical division of human beings. “The subject can be posed only in being opposed – he sets himself up as the essential, as opposed to the other, the inessential, the object”. Accordingly, de Beauvoir argues that woman is the opposite (other) of man who “defines woman not in herself but as relative to him […] she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other” (The Second Sex).

The literary study of marginality and otherness is also an occasion for established scholars and researchers to explore the convergences of imagination and expression of a number of writers who succeeded in challenging the question of canonicity. The reading of Afro-American texts, for instance, is a comparative perspective to explore and update one’s own understanding of the grounds of the canon. The movement against the will of the dominant culture is definitely essential in empowering marginalized discourses which often remained silenced by the same dominant culture.

In the critical-discourse tradition, the focus on marginality fueled the debate on identity and representations of the other. It brought more interest in relations of power in society and the themes of discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion in different types of discourses. The emerging research paradigms have offered new instruments and tools for a deeper investigation of the representations of the margins and the other. This relatively new research tradition has disturbed many old views on power relations between different types of human groups.

The human-rights tradition has also given voice to groups that have been marginalized across history. Gender studies and research on all types of minorities have entailed more interest in the voices that have historically been in the margins. This trend has advocated a more equal representation of the “different other” and triggered a wide sense of empathy for all types of communities and groups that do not fit into the “dominant norm”.

The tremendous developments in artistic creation in the last few decades have also devoted space to voices that have never been in the loop. The emerging artistic forms in music, cinema, drama, and many other forms of human creativity, have given prominence to otherness and human differences across the globe. These emerging artistic expressions have profited enormously from the recent technological developments that have erased many of the boundaries between different types of communities and social groups.

It is within this framework that the steering committee welcomes individual and panel proposals related, but not limited, to the following topics:

  • Marginality and marginalization
  • Representations of marginality
  • Representations of the Other
  • Marginality in literature
  • Discourses on Marginality
  • Voices from the margins
  • Marginality in history
  • Marginality in the social sciences
  • Arts on Marginality
  • Marginality and human rights
  • Marginality in the media
  • The sociolinguistics of marginality
  • Metaphors of the Other
  • Stereotyping and stigmatization
  • Identity and (In)visibility
  • Minor/Major (canonical) texts


We welcome individual abstracts for 20-minute presentations and complete panel proposals of three or four papers treating a similar theme or topic. Priority will be given to panel proposals.

Participants are kindly invited to submit their proposals via one of these links:

The deadline to submit proposals is June 30th, 2020. Notifications of acceptance will be communicated by July 10th, 2020.

TAELS editorial board will select a number of papers that will be published after peer-reviewing in a collective volume on the proceedings of the conference.


We offer the following packages to presenters of accepted abstracts:

Tunisian Participants International participants
Early bird (before August 25, 2020) Regular (August 25 – September 30, 2020) Early bird (Before August 25, 2020) Regular (August 25 – September 30, 2020)
250 TND 300 TND 300 Euros 350 Euros

The fees include:

·      One full-board night at a four-star hotel in Hammamet: check-in November 20; check-out November 21.

·      Access to all conference sessions and workshops;

·      Two coffee breaks;

·      Conference bag;

·      Certificate of participation;

·      Submission of the paper to peer-reviewing;

·      A hard copy of the conference proceedings after publication.

The fees include:

·      Three full-board nights at a four-star hotel in Hammamet: check-in November 19; check-out November 22.

·      Access to all conference sessions and workshops;

·      Two coffee breaks;

·      Conference bag;

·      Certificate of participation;

·      Submission of the paper to peer-reviewing;

·      A hard copy of the conference proceedings after publication.

For attendance only, the packages are as follows:

Tunisian attendees

(registration open till November 15, 2020)

International attendees

(registration open till November 15, 2020)

One day pass Two-day pass Two-day pass with accommodation (one night) One day pass Two-day pass

Two-day pass with accommodation

(two nights)

100 TND 150 TND 200 TND 50 Euros 100 Euros 200 Euros


Payment Modes

Option 1: Bank transfer

Bank account details

IBAN: TN 59 1070 5007 0481 8407 8872

Bank address: Rue Hédi Nouira – 1001 Tunis – Tunisia

Swift code: STBKTNTT

TAELS Address: ISLG, Rue Ali Jemel, 6000, Gabes– Tunisia

Option 2: Western Union transfer

Recipient: Abdelhamid Rhaiem, TAELS treasurer

ISLG, Rue Ali Jemel, Gabes 6000


Letters of invitation will be issued upon receipt of the registration fees.

For advice and more details about transportation, please send your requests to TAELS team will be happy to assist in making your stay most comfortable.

(posted 7 February 2020)

Complementary Views on Anglo-American Fiction: A Critical Comparative Approach, I International Conference
Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain, 25-27 November 2020
New extended deadline for abstract submission: 30 April 2020

Research Group: Contextos Literarios de la Modernidad

A prominent tendency in English literary criticism during the twentieth century, among others, has been to trace the influence of Anglo-American literature on the literary production of other traditions and languages. This dominance, built upon and ensured by the colonial empire of Britain up until WWII, and by the socioeconomic sway of the United States since the post-war period, has decelerated in the panorama of decolonization and the institution of the global market.
This trend seems to have been balanced in the cultural production of the last decades of the millennium, in which the influence of the literatures of other traditions over Anglo-American literature is gradually blossoming, becoming widely and openly acknowledged not only by critics but by the authors themselves. May this be the case, for instance, of Paul Auster who in an unpublished interview with Chris Pace in 1993 stressed his dislike for Jorge Luis Borgesone of the usual suspects in Auster’s intertextsyet who would recommend the works of the Argentinian decades later in his novel 4 3 2 1 (2017)? After all, as Borges voiced in one of his stories, “That a present-day book should derive from an ancient one is clearly honorable: especially since no one (as Dr. Johnson says) likes to be indebted to his contemporaries.” (27)
To study the reverence that Anglo-American authors hold for their foreign peers is certainly not new since allusions to the masters like Dante, Cervantes or Flaubert have been a staple in the canon. As Eliot asserted in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1919), there can be established a continuity between the work of any given author and that of his contemporaries, a interconnectivity that extends to all texts produced in the nation, as well as to the “whole of the literature of Europe” (14). In that regard, we see efforts in literary criticism like those of Paget Toynbee and Oscar Kuhns who exposed the Dantean germ in the lines of many figures from England’s poetic pantheon; or The Western Canon (1994) by Harold Bloom, in whose multicultural and multilingual index—albeit with a male Anglo-centric predominance—many authors could have found hypotexts for their stories.
It is the objective of this conference to invite scholars whose research has established connections of relationship, influence or rewriting of literature from other countries on contemporary Anglo-American literary texts. This endeavour finds support in Peter Boxall’s study Twenty-First-Century Fiction: A Critical Introduction (2013), in which its author concludes that “The Anglo-American contemporary novel is shaped by its ongoing dialogue with writers from other nations, writing often in languages other than English.” (6) Boxall presents this cultural exchange as a result of the transformation of the concept of national and postnational identity that is taken place in our globalized reality, giving rise to a “global consciousness” (168). Even if we remain skeptic of this totalizing development, it is clear that the hybrid identities constituted in the aftermath of decolonization and diaspora are nurtured in multiple traditions. These, within the context of postcolonial literature, have been articulated in response to the centres of political and cultural authority since, as Bill Ashcroft neatly phrased it, “the empire needs to write back” (6).
This Conference attempts to create a space for academics of different areas, nationalities and cultures where contemporary Anglo-American literature can be approached from the angle of a comparative analysis between different traditions. Although the focus is on contemporary works and authors, submissions that study fiction or poetry from the first half of the twentieth century are also welcome. Possible topics, or areas of inquiry, may include, but not exclusively:

  • Literary exchanges in European literatures: From the Renaissance to the present.
  • Reception of the Boom Generation and of Latin American Magical Realism.
  • Do classics other than Anglo-American matter?
  • Literature of Diaspora and hybrid identities.
  • Postcolonial communities: African and Aboriginal literatures.
  • Legacies of the East: the Middle East and Asia.

The Conference will be held in English and Spanish.


Proposals must include: Paper title, contact information, abstract (250 words including 4-6 keywords), bioprofile (150 words).
Proposals will undergo a peer-reviewing process in which relevance, quality, methodology and adaptation to the conference’s thematic lines will be taken into consideration.
Proposals must be sent to:

Revised key dates:

  • Abstract submission extended deadline: Thursday, 30 April 2020.
  • Notification of acceptance: Monday, 1 June 2020.
  • Registration: Tuesday, 1 September 2020 – Thursday, 15 October 2020.
  • Conference: 25-27 November 2020

Conference Committee: Manuel Botero Camacho, María Colom Jiménez, Glyn Hambrook, Dámaso López García, Eusebio de Lorenzo Gómez, Félix Martín Gutiérrez, Luis Martínez Victorio, Blanca Puchol Vázquez, Miguel Rodríguez Pérezn Eduardo Valls Oyarzun


(posted 18 January 2020, updated 22 January 2020, updated 2 April 2020)

Eurasian mobility and intercultural exchanges (EURASME)
Iasi, Romania, 26-27 November 2020
Deadline for proposals: 20 Septembe 2020

A conference organised by:
– ROK Center for Korean Studies Center for European Studies, Faculty of Letters, UAIC Faculty of Law, UAIC
– Academy of Mobility Humanities, Konkuk University, Seoul

This multidisciplinary conference proposes to investigate the cultural implications of past and present human mobility between Europe and Asia, to examine the historical relations, as well as the current and possibly future intercultural exchanges between the two continents, and to trace the Eurasian circulation of ideas and ideologies. Special attention will be given to the study of Korean intercultural interactions and exchanges.
Whereas human mobility has been studied traditionally within the separate disciplines of history, economy, sociology or political studies, with a focus on migration patterns, trade routes and tourism management, it is becoming apparent that the movement of people, goods and ideas is driven by a complexity of factors, not the least of which are cultural and ideological, and therefore requires a more comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach. People have traveled since time immemorial in order to discover new lands and resources, for leisure and intellectual enjoyment, or for trade and other professional purposes; the growing movement of all these explorers, travelers and tourists involves a circulation of artifacts and ideas which affected local civilizations and cultures through influence, colonization or merger, and eventually contributed to the emergence of our current globalized world. The drivers and effects of our physical and intellectual mobility make a worthwhile subject both within and outside academia, and their investigation may contribute to a better understanding and projection of our contemporary and future society.
Conference participants are invited to present their papers, reflect on the present conditions of mobility and engage in intercultural exchanges in person and/or online. The conference will include both online sessions, and in presentia sessions to be held, if health circumstances permit, at UAIC, the first university of Romania.
To participate in this conference, please submit an abstract in English of around 200 words and a bio note to by September 20, 2020. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and a confirmation of acceptance will be sent by the end of September.
Accepted papers will be published in EURINT Conference Proceedings, indexed Web of Science. Selected papers will be published in the Eastern Journal of European Studies (EJES), indexed Web of Science, SCOPUS, EBSCO a.o.
Conference fee EUR 100 in presentia, EUR 50 online. Participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation arrangements.
Further details will be published in due time.
This event is supported by the Seed Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2018-INC-2230007).
This event is supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF- 2018S1A6A3A03043497).

(posted 10 August 2020)

Work: A Conference on the Labors of Language, Culture, and History: Swiss Association for North American Studies Biennial Conference
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, 27-28 November 2020
Deadline for proposals: 15 May 2020

Keynotes (tentative titles)

  • Michael Denning (Yale): “Laboring Life: Re-founding the Critical Theory of Work”
  • Jennifer Rhee (Virginia): “The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor”
  • Katja Kanzler (Leipzig): “Affective Labor in 21st-Century Popular Culture”

When the speaker in Philip Levine’s poem “What Work Is” says that everyone old enough to read a poem knows about work, he means that work is a universal condition. Some people work more often than others, or under more desirable circumstances, or for better pay, but we all do it. You’re probably working right now. If you’re reading a call for papers, you know what work is.

Yet like all fundamental categories, work becomes ever more complex as we examine it more closely. As Raymond Williams and Andrea Komlosy have shown, the terms “work,” “labor,” “job,” “employment,” “occupation,” “profession,” “vocation,” “task,” “toil,” “effort,” “pursuit,” and “calling” form a dense web of overlapping and contrasting meanings. Language must labor to grasp the connections between cooking a Big Mac and writing a novel, lifting a box in a warehouse and making beds at a hotel, professing and caring for children, hammering and tweeting. But if art is also a kind of work, why is the work of art so rarely directed toward its own conditions of production? While North American literature, television, film, theater, and music have helped to make work intelligible or, conversely, communicated its resistance to meaning, they have also been relatively uninterested in it. Moreover, as Kathi Weeks observes, “work produces not just economic goods and services but also social and political subjects.” Thus, the analysis of work must also contend with how histories of class struggle, gendered and sexual divisions of labor, racial hierarchies, and citizenship regimes have determined who counts as a worker and qualifies for the rights, protections, and social respect thereof. And yet waged work is only the tip of an enormous iceberg that feminist theorists call “socially reproductive labor”—the gendered, mostly unpaid, and hidden work of caring for, feeding, nursing, and teaching the next generation of workers. Ultimately, the more we meditate on the breadth and depth of work, the less we know what work is or does.

This conference proposes that the question of work does a great deal of work for the study of North America. The conference is inspired not only by the richness of work as a linguistic, cultural, and historical concept, but also by current conjunctures that are profoundly changing work and its worlds. The bread-winning patriarch has given way to dual-earning households, steady jobs to contingency and “gigs.” Beneath the surface of official unemployment statistics lie decades of stagnant wages, “bullshit jobs,” stress, and alienation. Once a symbol of freedom and opportunity, work has become a symptom of national and international crisis in debates over borders and tariffs, pipelines and policing, “boomers” and “millennials,” healthcare and automation. Do advances in artificial intelligence spell the end of work as we know it? Are we on the verge of a postwork society? If so, is the crisis of work necessarily dystopian? To paraphrase Leonard Cohen: If work has become a crack in North American society and culture, what sort of light might stream through?

We are seeking contributions that address the following aspects of work, broadly conceived:

  • (Non-)Representation of work in North American literature and culture
  • Work and genre/form: proletarian literature, the office movie, the strike song, etc.
  • Class formations and working-class histories
  • Studies of workers and industries: manual and intellectual workers, white-collar/ blue-collar/ grey-collar/ pink-collar, care workers, fast food workers, digital workers, “playbor,” warehouse workers, Amazon Mechanical Turkers, artists, performers, etc.
  • The university, academic labor, the work of professing
  • Work and nation, nationalism, nation-building
  • Electoral politics and the 2020 U.S. presidential election
  • Settler colonialism and empire
  • Race, ethnicity, indigeneity
  • Slavery, incarceration, surplus populations
  • North American work regimes in transnational and global perspective
  • “They take our jobs!”: immigration, borders, citizenship
  • Gendered/sexual divisions of labor, housework and the family, social reproduction, feminist, queer, and trans critiques of work
  • Religions and the work ethic
  • Work’s terminologies, etymologies, dialects, accents, slangs
  • Not-work: unemployment, free time, leisure, play, anti-work
  • Futures of work: technological unemployment, utopian/dystopian speculation, postwork imaginaries, Mincome, Universal Basic Income

Please send paper or panel abstracts of 200-300 words and a short biographical note by 15 May 2020 (new extended deadline!) to Contact the organizers at and

(posted 2 April 2020)