II SEDERI International Conference for Junior Researchers
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid / Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) in Spain, 5, 6 and 7 October 2022
Submission of abstracts: 31 May 2022
We are pleased to announce that the II SEDERI International Conference for Junior Researchers of Early Modern English Studies will be held on 5, 6 and 7 October 2022 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid / Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) in Spain. This event is part of an initiative born within SEDERI, the Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies, which seeks to provide a platform where junior researchers from around the globe can gather in order to exchange different ideas, views and opinions on the study of the English language and its literature, history and culture of the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Alexander Samson (University College London)
- Sabine Schülting (Freie Universität Berlin)
- Jesús Tronch Pérez (Universitat de València)
We welcome proposals in English for 20-minute papers that critically explore questions related to the study of early modern literature, language, history and culture, particularly in relation to the English Renaissance and the English Restoration. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Early modern texts, contexts and stages
- Early modern politics, economies and ideologies in texts and on the stage
- Anglo-Iberian and Anglo-Mediterranean relations in the early modern period
- Early modern cultures of work, customs and rituals
- Early modern utopias and dystopias
- Early modern travel narratives and narratives of migration and exile
- Early modern constructions of the figure of the outsider/ the other and their afterlives
- The materiality of the early modern text: critical editions, manuscripts and print culture
- Linguistic contact, variation and change in the early modern period
- Translations, adaptations and appropriations of early modern English texts
- Performance and reception of early modern English plays
The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 May 2022. Acceptance will be notified before 30 June 2022. Proposals must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as an email attachment (preferably as .doc or .docx files) containing the following information:
- The author’s name, institutional affiliation and email address
- A short biographical note (max. 100 words)
- The full title of the paper, a 250-300 word abstract, and 4 keywords
- Your SEDERI membership status (member, non-member, application submitted). If you wish to join SEDERI, please visit http://www.sederi.org/membership/
Conference fees: SEDERI members (€30), non-SEDERI members (€40)
Registration: 30 June 2021– 15 September 2021
(Posted 26 April 2022)
Transnational Shelley(s): Metamorphoses and Reconfiguration Conference
Accademia Vivarium Novum, Vila Falconieri, Frascati, Rome. 6-7 October 2022
Deadline for abstracts: 30 April 2022
This conference celebrates Percy Bysshe Shelley’s multifaceted afterlives, exploring the many echoes his oeuvre has produced throughout the history of modern and contemporary literature. The aim of the conference is to craft a map of the poet’s seminal influence on single authors as well as on literary movements.
Starting from Mary Shelley’s immediate editorial and critical efforts, and passing through both late 19th century Victorian celebrations and Modernist (apparent) rejection, the history of Shelley’s fortune is one of the most interesting in modern and contemporary literature, and helps us to reflect on the true essence of his poetic legacy. Robert Browning, Walter Pater, the War Poets, Wallace Stevens, and many other poets were indeed among the most overt estimators of P.B. Shelley’s works. Furthermore, his poetical and philosophical lesson has reverberated through the production of authors from around !he globe, not just those in the anglophone world.
Given the Shelleys’ fruitful collaboration, especially in their “Italian” years, Mary Shelley’s transnational legacy will also be the object of investigation.
Scholars from various parts of the world and fields of study (literature, sociology, anthropology, pedagogy, to name a few) are invited to discuss the wealth of Shelley’s aesthetic and ideological legacy, thus creating a forum which will provide a fertile addition to the various events that constellate the Shelleyan bicentenary celebrations.
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
- The Shelleys’ reception in the Americas;
- The Shelleys’ reception in Asia;
- The Shelleys’ reception in Africa;
- The Shelleys’ reception in Oceania;
- The Role of the Shelleys’ oeuvre in the context of other European Romantic movements;
- (New) Translations of Shelley’s poems;
- Adaptations and remediations of Shelleyan character in popular culture;
- P.B. Shelley as a Romantic icon;
- Mary Shelley’s role in the canonization of Shelley’s figure.
Send abstracts of individual papers (250 words) and a short bionote by April 30, 2022 to:
Acceptance will be notified by May 20, 2022.
Registration fee: early bird (July 15), €75; later registration €100.
- Elisabetta Marino
(Department of History, Humanities and Society, University of Rome Tor Vergata)
- Paolo Bugliani
(Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics, University of Pisa)
Giuseppe Albano, Gioia Angeletti, Serena Baiesi, Roberto Baronti Marchiò, Lilla Maria Crisafulli, Nora Crook, Keir Elam, Carlotta Farese, Roberta Ferrari, Gilberta Golinelli, Daniela Guardamagna, Sharon Ruston, Diego Saglia, Carla Sanguineti, Rossana Sebellin, Maria Valentini
(Posted 7 April 2022)
Rogues and Pícaros in Medieval and Early Modern Spain and England: Politics and Poetics
Poitiers, France, 13-14 October 2022
Deadline for proposals: late August 2021
- Pierre Darnis (University of Bordeaux 3, AMERIBER – EA 3656)
- Pascale Drouet (University of Poitiers, CESCM – UMR 7302)
- University of Poitiers, Centre for Advanced Studies in Medieval Civilisation – UMR 7302 (Hôtel Berthelot, 24 rue de la Chaîne, Poitiers, France – https://cescm.labo.univ-poitiers.fr)
Within Western literature, the picaresque was quickly perceived as a “historically and geographically delimited tradition” specific to Spain during the Golden Age, a genre apart from the rest, almost without precedent. Going against this common misconception, recent studies have reminded us of the importance of the Apuleian and Lucian origins of this ‘new’ narrative formula. The wily beggar thus seems the prodigal son of the Ancients. Shouldn’t we therefore extend the reflection and, at the very least, reconsider the scientific cliché that sees in this character the perfect (dissident) example of the Renaissance hero? Didn’t the Middle Ages also contribute to the creation of the cunning rogue?
Moreover, on the Iberian peninsula, where Lazarillo was born on the banks of the Tormès River, it would not be surprising to find some precursors of this early modern antihero. What about the influential character of the insubordinate, who, whether against the monarch or his various institutional arms, found an interesting echo? The Cid Campeador, on whom Corneille drew inspiration in France, is certainly one of the most striking figures of the South European Middle Ages, in the continuity of Achilles against Agamemnon and, closer to him, of Renaud de Montauban against Charlemagne.
In England, the academic debate invites us to question the plurality of picaresque metamorphoses. At the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Robert Greene’s conny-catching pamphlets, which detailed the fraudulent activities of cozeners, were a great success. Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller was considered as a picaresque novel. With the characters of Falstaff in King Henry IV and Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare portrayed a number of endearing rogues whose notion of honour was reminiscent of the paradoxical ethos of the pícaro, “the exemplary embodiment of anti-honour”.  Many of these fictional figures are heirs to the Greek mètis, to the ruses of the Baron de Maupertuis, translated by William Caxton in 1481 as The History of Reynard the Fox, and to early Spanish picaresque novels. The question is how the picaresque novel “grafted itself in England on the national tradition (that of the beggar books and Thomas Nashe’s Jack Wilton), which it inflected in the direction of anathema against vice”. 
The marginal characters known respectively as rogues and pícaros have already been the subjects of various academic studies, yet separately. The perspective envisaged here proposes to compare them and place them in dialogue, in order to question the creation, circulation and evolution of literary models from one period to another (Middle Ages and Renaissance) and from one country to another (Spain and England). One may thus wonder what these fictional representations tell us about the society in which they acted, about its socio-political choices on the one hand, and about the expectations and answers of readers and spectators on the other. One may wonder whether (and/or how) rogues find their places in society or how they stand out from it, and where the author stand especially in a socio-political context in which conformism and utopianism often intersect.
When do these specific terms, ‘rogues’ and ‘pícaros’, appear and why precisely at this point? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first occurrence of ‘rogue’ dates back to 1489, meaning “idle vagrant, vagabond”, but the meaning changes in 1568, when it begins to designate “a dishonest, unprincipled person; a rascal, a scoundrel”; the English language appropriated the term ‘pícaro’ in 1622, as a synonym of ‘rogue, scoundrel”.  However, these two terms, which are not exactly synonymous, do not cover a similar reality. Do borrowings exist from one country to another, thus preserving the specificity of each term? When were the various works (popular pamphlets, prose ballads, stories, plays) that represent them translated from English to Spanish or from Spanish to English? What did these translations target? For example, why is there a gap of about twenty-four years between the publication of Mateo Alemán’s Guzmán de Alfarache and its translation by James Mabbe? How did the representation of the notion of anti-honour evolve? Why did Richard Head take up the picaresque vein at the time of the Restoration with The English Rogue and not earlier? These are some of the questions this conference aims at answering.
Scientific Committee: William C. Carroll (Boston University, USA), Michel Cavillac (University of Bordeaux Montaigne), Pierre Darnis (University of Bordeaux Montaigne), Pascale Drouet (University of Poitiers), Gordon McMullan (King’s College London, England), Valentín Núñez Rivera (Université de Huelva, Espagne), Fabrice Quero (University of Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3)
Proposals (300 words maximum for the abstract + a written bio-biblio of 200 words maximum + please specify if you are interested in having your paper published) should be sent before late August 2021 to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposals may be submitted (and papers given) in 3 languages: French, English and Spanish.
 Gérard Genette, Des genres et des œuvres, Paris, Seuil, 2012, p. 131.
 Maurice Molho & Jean-François Reille (éd.), « Introduction à la pensée picaresque », Romans picaresques espagnols, Paris, Gallimard, “Bibliothèque de la Pléiade”, 1968, p. cv.
 Marcel Bataillon, Le Roman picaresque, Paris, La Renaissance du livre, 1931, p. cxxx.
 See, for example, Craig Dionne and Steve Mentz (eds), Rogues in Early Modern English Culture, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2006 ; Pascale Drouet, De la filouterie dans l’Angleterre de Shakespeare : Études sur Shakespeare et ses contemporains, Toulouse, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2013.
 Oxford English Dictionary, “rogue, n. and adj.”, A.n.1, puis 2.a.
 Ibid., “picaro”.
(Posted 19 May 2021)
“Modernism and Matter” – An International workshop
Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, Montpellier, France, 13-14 October 2022
Deadline for submissions: 1 June 2022
An International workshop organised by EMMA (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3) in collaboration with CIRPaLL (Université d’Angers)
This workshop on modernism and matter is an incentive to interrogate the meaning of matter, and investigate its power in modernist literature. Our assumption is that modernist writings can help us answer the call for ‘more complex understandings of materiality’ (Alaimo).
A hundred years after the so-called annus mirabilis of modernist literature, such a reappraisal of modernism should be appropriate. Over the last few years, revaluations of modernism or modernisms have been many, from Stephen Ross and Allana Lindgren’s The Modernist World (2017) and Douglas Mao’s New Modernist Studies (2021) to Jean
Michel Rabaté and Angeliki Spiropoulou’s recent anthology Historical Modernisms: Time, History and Modernist Aesthetics (2022). The focus has gradually shifted from canonical writers such as James Joyce, T.S. Eliot or Virginia Woolf to relatively neglected figures like Dorothy Richardson or Rebecca West and to lesser-known writers usually not labelled as modernists, as in Lynne Hapgood’s and Nancy L. Paxton’s Outside Modernism (2000). In order to embrace the rainbow-like nature of modernism, diverse methods – historical, literary or philosophical – and theories have been implemented, and archival research often favoured. Modernism has nevertheless remained associated with experimentation (as underlined by Rabaté and Spiropoulou), the quest for the self and urban modernity, a vision that was promoted by the modernists themselves, as is well-known.
Only recently have critics begun to alter this image of modernism by drawing attention to the ecological sensibility that manifests within its bounds. In his seminal Green Modernism (2015), Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy stated that ‘Until recently, modernist studies has largely rebuffed the insights of ecocriticism thanks to the aesthetic armor of its autonomous, subjective, urban texts’, and he proceeded to analyse Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford and D.H. Lawrence in that new light. Kelly Sultzbach (2016), Andrew Kalaidjian (2020), Michael Rubenstein and Justin Neuman (2020) have each in their own way extended these reflections.
Building on this recent work on modernist ecologies and in a similar attempt at renewing our understanding of modernism – and possibly, tease out some of its contradictions, we would like to draw attention to the specific connections between modernism and materiality. Indeed, modernist writers were not only interested in the materiality of the books which they produced, but also in matter. The ‘prosaic’ concerns of the preceding generation were rejected – Wells, Bennett and Galsworthy being labelled as ‘materialists’ by Virginia Woolf, because they wrote of ‘unimportant things’ – while the centrality of matter itself was reaffirmed in new and original ways, with Woolf herself devoting a short story to ‘Solid Objects’ and comparing impressions with atoms in her essay ‘Modern Fiction’.
Far from being inert, matter is considered as being alive and vibrant not only by biologists or physicists but also by philosophers such as Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze, and theorists such as Jane Bennett or Bruno Latour. What qualifies as matter for the writers of the modernist era? How do they define matter and represent it? How does it relate to the self they were so intimate with? How does the Modernists’ conception of matter resonate with the contemporary scientists’? How do the ways they represent matter, materiality or material environments resemble or depart from those that characterize the Romantic and Victorian periods?
In order to address these questions, theories that embrace the ‘insights of ecocriticism’ or cut across those of New Materialism may be resorted to (although not exclusively); they will help to explore the plural form and plasticity of matter together with the connections between the material and the psychological, the organic and the inorganic, matter and consumerism, matter and materialism, matter and myth, materiality, physicality, animism and mysticism, to give but a few examples. Such an approach should shed a new light on modernist literature, its canonical and non-canonical figures, and the aesthetic, ethical, ontological or political role and power of matter.
Please send a 300-word abstract with a short biographical note to Christine Reynier (email@example.com) and Xavier Le Brun (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Deadline for submissions: 1 June 2022
Notification of acceptance: 30 June 2022
A selection of peer-reviewed papers will be published in the series Horizons Anglophones/Present Perfect, PULM: https://www.pulm.fr/index.php/collections/horizons anglophones/present-perfect.html
- Dr. Nicolas Boileau, Aix-Marseille Université, France Pr. Rossana Bonadei, University of Bergamo, Italy
- Dr. Elke D’hoker, KU Leuven, Belgium
- Pr. Christine Froula, Northwestern University, USA
- Pr. Jean-Michel Ganteau, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France Dr. Xavier Le Brun, Université d’Angers, France
- Pr. Caroline Patey, University of Milan, Italy
- Pr. Frédéric Regard, Sorbonne Université, France
- Pr. Christine Reynier, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France Pr. Stephen Ross, University of Victoria, BC, Canada
- Marie Bertrand, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France
- Alice Borrego, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3,
- France Tim Gupwell, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France Clémence Laburthe-Tolra, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3,
- France Xavier Le Brun, Université d’Angers, France
- Christine Reynier, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France
(Posted 12 February 2022)
The View from the Anthropocene: Exploring the Human Epoch from Post-Anthropocentric Perspectives
The Institute of English and American Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Debrecen, Hungary, 15-16 October 2022
Deadline for proposals: June 30, 2022
“If the sadness of life makes you tired
And the failures of man make you sigh
You can look to the time soon arriving
When this noble experiment winds down and calls it a day”
In this age of ecological, economic and social crises, the notion of the Anthropocene is becoming ever more significant. Proposed by Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer in 2000, the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch highlights detrimental human impact on the planet, while as a critical notion it synthetises anti-, non- or post-anthropocentric views challenging the dominant discourses and practices that place humans at the centre of the world. However, with its scope incessantly expanding and its meanings ever in flux, the Anthropocene requires constant redefinition and reassessment. So far it has been criticised for its ideological implications and several terms such as Plantationocene (Haraway 2015), Capitalocene (Moore 2016, Davies 2016), and Occidentalocene (Bonneuil and Fressoz 2017) have been offered as alternatives. Yet could we define the Anthropocene and its implications more clearly and harmoniously? Above all, it is an urgent warning about the future of ecosystems, cultures and societies alike, forcing us to realise that “we are embedded in various social, economic, and—especially—ecological contexts that are inseparably connected” (Kersten 2013). Addressing the need for coherence across versatile approaches, the conference calls for a transdisciplinary investigation of the challenges of our age.
We also realise that the Anthropocene must be acted upon, although its cry for action is crippling. As Judy Wilson put it during one of the panel discussions at COP26, “the human epoch is not only external, it is also internal”, for it not only denotes a number of ecological and social crises – including climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution, poverty and starvation in the global south, causing waves of migration which in turn fuel global conflict –, but it also involves anxiety and apathy that render us passive in the face of these crises. As Liz- Rejane Issberner and Philippe Léna put it, it seems “as though humanity is being lethargic – waiting for the end of the film, when the heroes arrive to sort everything out, and we can all live happily ever after” (2018).
The conference aims to address some of the controversies, the lethargy and (wilful) ignorance that conceal the significance of the Anthropocene, exploring the notion itself as well as its theoretical and practical challenges from the perspectives of posthumanism, animal studies, ecocriticism and any other approaches that question anthropocentrism from their respective viewpoints. We invite proposals that may address, yet are not restricted to, the following topics:
- Critiques of and conceptual alternatives to the Anthropocene—Donna Haraway’s ‘Cthulhucene’, Jason Moore’s ‘Capitalocene’, Bernard Stiegler’s ‘neganthropocene’ and the like
- Cli-fi, dystopian and/or utopian responses to climate change Speculative and fantastic fiction related to the Anthropocene Eco-anxiety
- Fantastic texts exploring indigenous worldviews on ecology
- Literary fiction or other media that interrogate humanity’s relationship with other lifeforms Literary fiction or other media that question the human/animal boundary
- Human-Animal Studies, Literary and Cultural Animal Studies, Animal Ethics, Critical Animal Studies The non- and posthuman other (animals, plants, monsters, aliens, artificial intelligence) in art, literature, cinema and other media
- Nonhuman perspectives in literature and cinema; the nonhuman gaze Non-anthropocentric spaces and temporalities in literature and cinema Ecocriticism, environmental humanities, deep ecology and ecosophy Eco-horror; aesthetics and themes
- Bioethical considerations
- Posthumanism, post- and transhumanist frameworks, posthumanist ethics Anti-humanism, meta-humanism
- Speculative realism, object-oriented ontologies, new materialism, post-anthropocentric ecology theories, theories of social assemblage
- Object-oriented art; bioart, microbial art
- Eco-art, eco-literature, eco-media, eco-cinema
Confirmed plenary speakers include Márk Horváth and Ádám Lovász who will give a talk on the post- anthropocentric turn, and László Nemes, who will speak about his current inquiry into the ethics of de- extinction. Accompanying programmes will include a roundtable discussion addressing the challenges of the Anthropocene, with participants from various fields including philosophy, literary and film criticism, biology, and psychology; a photography exhibition; and a multimedia art event organised by the members of Művészek a klímatudatosságért (Artists for Climate Awareness). With these programmes we hope to turn the collective experience of inertia symptomatic of the Anthropocene into awareness, new forms of agency, and action.
“Time has come now to stop being human
Time to find a new creature to be
Be a fish or a weed or a sparrow
For the earth has grown tired and all of your time has expired.”
(Thinking Fellers Union Local 282: “Noble Experiment”)
The conference is planned as an on-site event, to be held in English and Hungarian, on 15-16 October 2022 at the University of Debrecen. Depending on the dynamics of the pandemic, we will nevertheless adapt and consider moving parts of or the whole conference to a digital platform. Participants will be informed about any changes via email in due time.
Please send a 250 word abstract of your proposed paper with a brief, max. 100 word biography to email@example.com by June 30, 2022. Those who wish to present in Hungarian are also welcome, but are kindly asked to include an English version of their abstract and mini bio in their application. Responses will be given by July 31, 2022.
It is intended that a selection of the papers based on the conference presentations will be published, either in a separate collection of articles or a thematic volume in a scholarly journal.
Zsófia Novák and Borbála László (PhD students, Department of British Studies, IEAS, UD);
Tamás Bényei, DSc (professor, Department of British Studies, IEAS, UD);
György Kalmár, PhD (reader, Department of British Studies, IEAS, UD).
Political Polarization in 21st Century Societies: What It Is and Why It Matters
University of Rouen, France. ERIAC research centre, 20th-21st October 2022
Deadline for proposals: 1 March 2022
The term “polarization”, which has its origins in physics and mathematics is used in many countries nowadays to refer to political phenomena. Depending on the context, it may refer to a process or to a resulting situation; it may describe a state of affairs or express a desire to return to consensus and cooperation. It can be used both in an everyday sense meaning the same as “division” and in an academic sense, linked, for instance, to the dysfunctions of an institution; it can be used in a party-political sense, or in a wider sense concerning politics and society. This semantic flexibility no doubt helps explain the popularity of the term, but it means that we must carefully map the movements from one meaning of “polarization” to another and the importance of such movements in different national or other contexts.
In the United States, while the media use the term as a synonym for “division”, some political scientists speak of “asymmetric polarization” to help explain the dysfunctions of political institutions. In the US, the debate around polarization brings up a number of questions. Political scientists attempt to establish whether citizens are actually more divided than previously, or whether it is more that the two main parties have each become more ideologically coherent. Other questions debated include the extent to which the two parties are affected by polarization in an identical manner, whether polarization originates within political elites or among voters, as well as the role played by old and new media in the rise of polarization.
In Latin America, a continent marked historically by the strength of presidentialism and by high levels of inequality, two factors which reinforce political conflict, the term “polarization” has long been used. The massive waves of protest of recent years have meant that the term is increasingly present in the media, referring to the exacerbation of tension and the radicalization of people’s attitudes. There is a risk that it become a quick-fix label of superficial analysis.
In Europe, there is no shortage of examples of political polarization. In Spain the economic crisis has led to the entire post-dictatorship social and political settlement being put into question. The upheavals around the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, or the “Yellow Vests” crisis in France constitute further indications, as does the rise of a series of “anti-system” movements, or movements for independence, across the continent.
A process of polarization has also been noted concerning specific political questions or spaces, and the weakness of the “centre ground” has often been remarked upon. The impressive political distance separating the two successive leaders of the British Labour Party (Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer) is a key example, but one could also mention the division among British feminists concerning trans rights, or the sharply contrasting positions on the French Left concerning the recent demonstrations against government policy on the pandemic. In addition, groups advocating direct disruptive action (such as Extinction Rebellion in Britain or the Yellow Vests in France) can muster public support unthinkable thirty years ago.
This conference will allow us to question, collectively, the concept of polarization and to produce a critical analysis of the use of the term, and of its links with other political phenomena such as consensus or political violence, in the context of the democratic structures of different countries. Is polarization in itself a problem? Does the term polarization help forge a crucial prism through which one can grasp and analyse social and political reality today, or on the contrary does the idea lead to an oversimplification of complex processes? What aspects does the term help understand and what aspects does it leave to one side? How far is it useful to shed light on present political situations? How much political space remains for nuance, diversity, and difference so central to Western democracies?
In approaching these debates, one might look both at real phenomena of polarization, and at academic uses of the term (asymmetrical polarization, affective polarization, polarization on social networks). Topics might include the genealogy of this concept in political science, party-political polarization, polarization in connection with social struggles and the link between political polarization, the media, and social networks.
Proposals for papers
Proposals should be no longer than 500 words in length and should be accompanied by a short biographical note. Papers will be in English or in French and will be limited to thirty minutes (followed by ten minutes of discussion). They should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and to email@example.com before the 1st March 2022.
(Posted 19 November 2021)
Postcolonial Narrations 2022: Postcolonial Matters of Life and Death
Bonn, 20-22 October
Deadline for abstracts: 31 May 2022
The last decades have brutally shown that not all lives and bodies are equally grievable. War, increased migratory movements, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the climate crisis demonstrate that hierarchies of life and death continue to be dominated by colonial and racialized criteria as well as political and social power structures. In her much-referenced work Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004), Judith Butler asserts that “[s]ome lives are grievable, and others are not; the differential allocation of grievability […] operates to produce and maintain certain exclusionary conceptions of who is normatively human: what counts as a liveable life and a grievable death?” (XIV-XV). Her assessment raises further questions about the conception and boundaries of ‘the human’ and who controls them. Since the European Enlightenment the predominant understanding of ‘the human’ has been shaped by a universalizing focus on individualism and rationality. These humanist notions do not only foreground an immaterial understanding of human essence, neglecting any question of the material existence of the body, but more so indicate a sharp distinction between subject and object, self and other. Recent posthumanist scholarship seeks to expose these binaries and tries to negotiate new understandings of ‘the human’. Examining marginalised lives and deaths through a focus on black, female, queer, or non-human agents, critical posthumanism investigates who counts as ‘human’. This endeavour is especially relevant in a postcolonial context, where existing ideas of the human mind and body are continuously reconsidered, and the imagining of alternative ways of life is a central concern. Emerging from this framework, we hope to explore postcolonial matters of life and death in next year’s Postcolonial Narrations Forum.
The controlling and policing of life and death, which dominate our screens again and again in the form of racially motivated police shootings, the discoveries of mass graves of Indigenous children, and the violence at Europe’s borders, have long been central to colonialism and its continuous aftermath. Consequently, the institutionalised regulation of human life and bodies has attracted notice as a major focus in literary and cultural studies, postcolonial studies, medical and environmental humanities, and other fields. Concepts such as biopolitics (Foucault), bare life (Agamben), necropolitics (Mbembe), and slow death (Berlant) are only a few among the many tools which are useful to examine the abovementioned issues. Literary genres as diverse as life-writing, memoir, dystopia, and SF as well as other media have not only voiced criticism in this regard, but have narrated forms of resistance, resilience, and survival. These cultural trends reflect political discourses surrounding, for instance, the Black Lives Matter movement, the reclaiming of bodies through mourning rituals, and #RefugeesWelcome. We would like to invite fellow PhD candidates and early career scholars to join us in a multifaceted exchange on postcolonial matters of life and death. We welcome a wide range of contributions on the following and related issues in postcolonial contexts:
- the body as the site of life/death/change
- death and grief / rituals of mourning
- birth / reproduction (rights)
- violence / genocide / war / pandemic
- queer bodies / erotic sovereignty
- toxic environments / toxic bodies
- survival / resilience / resistance
- ageing and decay / preservation
- suicide / assisted suicide
- images of the afterlife
- genre theory: life-writing / autobiography / autobiografiction / memoir
- genre theory: utopia / dystopia / SF / futurism
- Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee, Universität Mainz (keynote lecture)
- Alecia McKenzie (artist’s talk and reading)
- Dr. Jennifer Leetsch (workshop)
Please send abstracts for 20 minute-long talks (ca. 300 words + 5 keywords) and a short bio note to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 May 2022. We will send out acceptance e-mails and further info by mid-June.
We are planning to hold the conference in person in Bonn, following current COVID-regulations. In case the circumstances change, the format might switch to an online event. In either case, single events or panels may be held in a hybrid form. There will be no conference fee and a limited amount of travel bursaries can be organised. Please let us know if you require further information on this.
We are currently exploring possibilities for the publication of a conference volume. Further information on this will follow.
- Marie Berndt, Angela Benkhadda, Lena Falk, and Peri Sipahi University of Bonn
(Posted 30 March 2022)
Ways of Picturing, Thinking and Telling Our Time: Fifty Years of Seeing with John Berger
University of Lorraine, Metz (France), 20-21 October 2022.
Deadline for proposals: 25 June 2022
Keynote lectures: Tom Overton (Barbican Centre) and Olivier Cohen (Éditions de l’Olivier).
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of two striking developments in John Berger’s career. Indeed, 1972 was the year in which he was awarded the Booker Prize for G., and became a household name thanks to Ways of Seeing, an unprecedented programme through which the critical efforts of art history and historical materialism found their way to a wider audience. The anniversary provides an excellent opportunity for the Société d’Études Anglaises Contemporaines (SEAC) to devote its annual conference to the œuvre of this luminary of 20th– and 21st-century British culture: France was the country Berger chose for his home, and although his work has been staged, translated, and published there, it has not always received the academic attention it deserves. Accordingly, this conference will acknowledge Berger’s significant impact on his contemporaries, both as a writer of fiction and non-fiction and as an art historian. Such an undertaking is, however, problematic: even as he rose to fame, Berger himself repeatedly warned against hagiographic approaches to great writers, and, more profoundly, argued against misapprehending art history as a linear sequence of individual protagonists, encouraging instead an understanding of culture as collective and collaborative. How then can we commemorate Berger’s work without falling into the pit-falls he himself draws attention to? This reflexive paradox will be at the centre of the conference, which aims both to commemorate and to problematise Berger’s complex legacy.
The very notion of an anniversary raises the issue of influence, and one of the objectives of the conference will be to examine the long shadow Berger casts on the landscapes of visual art and contemporary fiction. The impact of his thinking on visual art is widely documented, and reflected in events such as the symposium held in Lausanne in 2018, ‘De B à X. Faire (l’histoire de) l’art depuis John Berger.’ The deep impression he left on contemporary literature is also noteworthy, especially in the anglophone world. In A Jar of Wild Flowers, a collection published in celebration of his 90th birthday, Ali Smith states: ‘I could say that everything I’ve ever written or aspired to write has been in one way or another an appreciation of the work of John Berger.’ In the same volume, Amarjit Chandan describes Berger as ‘the writer of our time,’ suggesting that his figure towers over any attempt at apprehending contemporary writing and culture.
And yet, as Tom Overton points out in Landscapes, thinking in terms of ‘influence’ contradicts Berger’s own understanding of authorship: ‘Rather than the collective, collaborative act of storytelling, the idea of “influence” seems more associated with […] a capitalist logic of debt and restitution that Berger rejects.’ If the present conference is to propose a tribute to his work, it is bound to do so by fully engaging with the challenges his thinking and practice pose to any form of authoritarian imposition and to disciplining processes. Indeed, suspiciousness towards deference and canonisation is characteristic of his work.
One way of doing justice to Berger’s celebration of his readers’ ever-critical minds and eyes would be to respond to his entreaty in Ways of Seeing: ‘I hope you will consider what I arrange, but please, be sceptical of it.’ Ever mindful of the distinction between monography and hagiography, this conference will make room for critical appraisals of the contribution his work has made to our visual perception and imagination. It will take into account the ways in which Berger himself noted and anticipated such critical readings, stating as early as 1959 ‘I have been writing art criticism long enough to be proven wrong’ (in Portraits), and often connecting this sensitivity to his readers’ critical perspectives with his personal practice of ‘reconsidering’ (Overton, Portraits) artists and their works, returning to them from a different angle. Taking our cue from Berger’s awareness that the critic cannot content himself with situating the piece he studies, but must also reflexively ‘place [himself] historically’ (‘Between Two Colmars’), we will recognise a readiness to being read, critiqued and situated by others, as was the case for instance when Christopher Wood’s A History of Art History placed Berger beside Gombrich in the category of ‘fallen’ art historians.
The double movement that consists in inviting an other’s critical gaze while acknowledging one’s own situatedness points beyond a simple precaution against solipsism to a fundamental understanding of the collaborative nature of writing. One of the challenges of the conference in that sense will be to do justice to Berger’s own resistance to the ‘individualist illusion’ that would have us read art history as ‘a relay race of geniuses,’ (in Portraits) in a context where the monograph remained ‘one of the most typical discursive forms of art historical research and writing’ (Pollock). The aim will be to combine the attention to singularity proper to monographic research with Berger’s constant concern for the ramifications that inscribe each life in world historical processes. In doing so we will be fulfilling a condition necessary to the elaboration of any contemporary portrait, for ‘[i]n a world of transition and revolution, individuality has become a problem of historical and social relations […] Every mode of individuality now relates to the whole world’ (‘No more portraits,’ in Landscapes). The consideration shown to the reader as a singular feeling and thinking agent is therefore underpinned by the wider attention to be paid to the collective – that same attention which led Berger to share his 1972 Prize between his ‘project about the migrant workers of Europe’ and the activism of the Black Panthers, thereby counteracting the logic of exploitation behind the wealth of Booker McConnell.
Finally, by keeping in mind the material framework within which he could work, Berger reached beyond academic networks of specialists and art historians, and beyond the communities of political activists he kept ever present in his mind and writings, to a wider audience who might encounter him through such popular media as TV or paperbacks. Following the same logic that made him choose cheap, black and white illustrations over the glossy ones frequently used in exhibition catalogues and academic books, the conference will aim to look for the marks Berger left in our ways of seeing especially where these imply unexpected yet welcome encounters, the sort of coincidences and serendipities unchecked by academic structures and boundaries. In keeping with the author’s appeal to an audience of non-specialists in Ways of Seeing, the conference will welcome contributions from ‘common readers’ as well as from Berger scholars.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- art and politics, scholarly writing and activism
- the individual and/within history
- reproductions and reproduction rights
- contemporary times and history
- Berger and border-crossings
- Berger and the common
- the monograph, the œuvre
- Berger and art historians
- Berger and academia
- Berger and discipline(s)
- word and image
- intertextual connections: Berger and/in contemporary fiction
- Berger’s readers as authors? Writing with/after Berger
- storytelling and ideas, concepts and/in narrative
- storytelling and/as looking
- writing and/as letter-writing
This conference will be jointly convened by Dr Sarah Gould (Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne; HiCSA research center) and Dr Diane Leblond (University of Lorraine in Metz, IDEA – Interdisciplinarité dans les Etudes Anglophones). It will be held at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities on the University of Lorraine’s campus in Metz, on October 20th-21st, 2022.
We invite contributions from scholars, artists, writers, translators, publishers, or anyone who might testify to the impact of John Berger’s work and ways of seeing. Proposals of 300 words, together with a short biographical note, should be sent to Sarah Gould (email@example.com) and Diane Leblond (firstname.lastname@example.org) by June 25th, 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by June 30th, 2022.
A selection of peer-reviewed papers will be published in the SEAC’s journal Études britanniques contemporaines: https://journals.openedition.org/ebc/
- Berger, John, Ways of Seeing. 1972, Penguin Books, 2008.
- —‘Speech on accepting the Booker Prize for Fiction at the Café Royal in London,’ Nov. 23rd 1972, in Steps Towards a Small Theory of the Visible, Penguin Books, 2020.
- —‘Between Two Colmars,’ in About Looking. 1980, Bloomsbury, 2009.
- —, ed. Geoff Dyer. Selected Essays of John Berger. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.
- —, ed. Tom Overton. Portraits: John Berger on Artists. Verso Books, 2015.
- —, ed. Tom Overton. Landscapes: John Berger on Art. Verso Books, 2018.
- Chandan, Amarjit, Sally Potter, and Jean Mohr, eds. A Jar of Wild Flowers: essays in celebration of John Berger. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.
- Guins, Raiford, Juliette Kristensen, and Susan Pui San Lok, eds. ‘Ways of seeing: 40th anniversary issue.’ Journal of Visual Culture 11, no. 2 (2012).
- Pollock, Griselda, ‘Artists, Mythologies and Media — Genius, Madness and Art History’, Screen 21, iss. 3 (Autumn 1980).Wood, Christopher, A History of Art History. Princeton University Press, 2019.
(Posted 11 May 2022)
CALL FOR PAPERS
“Uncertain landscapes”: representations and practices of space in the age of the Anthropocene.
Keynote speakers: Pr Mark Cheetham, Department of Art History, University of Toronto ; Lina Prosa, Playwright, Palermo
“A working country is hardly ever a landscape. The very idea of landscape implies separation and observation.” (Williams, 1973) In this well-known statement, Raymond Williams expresses the view, often reformulated by cultural geographers and philosophers since the 1980s, that the idea of landscape always supposes a distancing process, whether it is a dissociation between the observed environment and the observing subject or, to use Alain Roger’s term, an “artialization,” a break with the natural world that allows environments to be constructed or represented according to aesthetic values (Roger, 1997).
Beyond this cultural separation, the history of the idea of landscape in Western thought seems to be punctuated by moments of tension between the natural world and man, in which aesthetic constructions of nature appear to be correlated with a sense of loss. Thus, just as forms of severance from rural life in the early modern period seem to have led to an aesthetic perception of environments that was dissociated from their use as working spaces, the flourishing of landscape painting in the Romantic period could be understood as a response to the tensions generated by industrialization.
In an era defined by some as the Anthropocene (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000), in which it is increasingly difficult to deny the acceleration and irreversibility of environmental damage as a result of human action, the concept of landscape has become the subject of multiple debates and redefinitions. The necessity to give aesthetic meaning to the spaces which we inhabit, as well as renew our social and political commitment to them, seems to be more urgent than ever. The paradigm of landscape as it was constructed in the early modern era no longer seems to give satisfactory answers to contemporary concerns, which emphasize the imbalances and degradations caused by decades of industrial exploitation and intensive agriculture. The contemplation of nature, far from conveying a reassuring sense of permanence, goes together with our awareness of humanity’s responsibility in what appears to be an ultimate crisis. While some consider that the idea of landscape is no longer relevant and put forward the notion of “post-landscape” (Wall 2017), others experiment with new aesthetic spatialities and outline new artistic practices of space.
In this context, the history of the landscape idea is re-examined by academics as well as political actors. In historical studies, the primacy of landscape as representation or “abstract picture of the world” is being questioned, with a new focus on landscape as “a way to inhabit the land” (Dauphant, 2018, 30). The role played by the landscape idea in the colonial imaginary as an instrument of appropriation is also underlined, allowing non-European cultures to challenge or even reinvest the concept. Once the historicity of the landscape idea is acknowledged, it becomes possible to explore the diversity of aesthetic conceptions of spaces that are simultaneously perceived, conceived and lived, to use Henri Lefebvre’s categories (1974). This diversity expresses itself in concrete ways of appreciating and experiencing landscape, such as French or English gardens, rural enclosures or open fields, and perhaps especially in changes of perception through time. For example, the “wilderness” was long perceived as terrifying before becoming desirable in the 19th century (R. F. Nash, 1967), and has now become an objective and symbol of preservation in the context of the Anthropocene. It is essential to acknowledge the ideological implications of such perceptions and their material, social and political impacts, when, for example, they justify the appropriation of territories for the sake of preserving a fantasized pristine landscape, untouched by humans (Black, 2012).
This conference aims to reassess the notion of landscape, understood in an aesthetic, social and political sense, and its current relevance to contemporary environmental challenges. While raising the question of the historical conditions of its construction and transformations, it proposes to examine its relevance today, its new meanings, as well as the practices of space and political actions that are now possible and justified. The emphasis will be on the artistic practices of the industrial and postindustrial eras as sources of resilience or reflection – in the visual arts and literature – as well as the idea of landscape, in its diachronic dimension, in order to reflect on the various ways in which it is possible to reassess our relationship to the environment in the context of the Anthropocene.
We welcome proposals on topics that may include, among others:
- new aesthetic and artistic spatialities (site-specific art, Land Art, Earthworks)
- cultural variations on the idea of landscape
- the inscriptions and traces of human history in landscapes
- contemporary ruins
- The shift from the notion of landscape to that of site in the 1960s
- contemporary forms of political commitment in relation to specific landscapes (such as natural or urban parks, shorelines that are threatened by rising waters, sacred territories)
- inequalities of access to landscapes
- the inclusion of the idea of landscape in urban policies, in the context of ecological transition
- the questioning and rethinking of anthropocentric approaches to nature
- the role of landscapes in psychological well-being
Please send a 250 to 300-word abstract, as well as a short bio, before May 15th, to the following addresses:
- email@example.com (Sandrine Baudry),
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Hélène Ibata),
- email@example.com (Fanny Moghaddassi)
(Posted 13 April 2022)
6th International Conference on Linguistics and Literature
Department of Philology, University of Cantabria, Santander, 27-28 October 2022
Deadline for abstracts: 1 June 2022
The Department of Philology at the University of Cantabria is pleased to resume the celebration of our VI International Conference on Language and Literature. We are interested in fostering a scientific meeting for the exchange of current research linked to the areas of knowledge that comprise the Department: Spanish Philology, English Philology, French Philology and Didactics of the Language and Literature.
Our goal is to create a forum where all specialists in the study of modern languages can present the development and results of their research from a variety of perspectives such as:
- Acquisition and teaching of First, Second and Foreign Languages
- Bilingualism and multilingualism
- Translation studies
- Corpus linguistics
- Diachronic and synchronic linguistic studies (phonetics, phonology; morphosyntax; semantics; lexis; discourse…)
- Digital Humanities o Disabilities Studies o Ecocriticism and Animal Humanities
- Comparative literature
- Cultural studies
- Gender Studies
- Postcolonial Literature
- Critical Theory
The Conference will take place online, through synchronous sessions using Zoom. The Conference will be honoured with three plenary speakers:
- Asier Altuna (University of Deusto)
- Angela de Bruin (York University)
- Frank Boers (University of Western Ontario)
We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers that will be presented in parallel sessions. Please email a 250-word abstract (excluding bibliography) in English, Spanish or French to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is June 1st 2022. Should you have any queries, please contact us or check our webpage: http://congresolinguisticayliteratura.unican.es/
Selected papers will be published in a post-conference volume with ISBN.
(Posted 4 May 2022)