Comparative Literature and Culture: Starting points of national literature and culture


Comparative Literature and Culture: Starting points of national literature and culture, Baku, 27-28 November 2015
Submission Deadline: September 15
Notification of acceptance: September 25

Azerbaijan Comparative Literature Association and Azerbaijani Literature Department of Baku Slavic University welcome papers, panel and roundtable proposals from scholars and doctoral students for interdisciplinary conference to be held on November 27-28, 2015.

The conference will cover a wide spectrum of issues, which could be considered criteria for the “nationality” of literary production and national culture. It is hard to know how to share national literature and culture without knowing how national literature begins, when and what the starting point is for the cultural heritage and literature of the contemporary nation. The related and seemingly settled terms nation (and national identity), national (or ethnic) culture and national literature are more questionable than they at first appear. The starting points and borders of national literatures and frontiers of any contemporary nation, new collapsed or established states do not coincide. The Ottoman Empire, the Mongol-Tatar Golden Horde, the Mughal dynasty, the Russian Empire, the Arabian caliphates, the Soviet Union – this is only part of the list of former states and collapsed frontiers. Both territory and cultural heritage should be shared among successor states. The definition of nation and identity has been repeatedly reconsidered in the last two decades of the post-socialist transition, and ancient history is mostly not on the agenda.

Another related issue is exile literature, dissident literature and émigré literature. How can they be considered “national”?

We invite scholars from various fields, backgrounds and approaches to explore these and other related questions:

  • What are the starting points of national literature and cultures? The state? Folklore? Epic? Classical literature? Alphabet?
  • What is starting point for literature itself? And what is literary text? Religious book, chronicle, any orally transferred text?
  • How does the concept of national literature and culture change through the changing components of identities? The state-ideology principle: what we share with others, as in the case of divided nations; the role of language in the “nationality” of literature and parallels between the role of Latin and Greek in Christian Europe, Arabic and Persian in Moslem Asia and the changing status of native language. As René Wellek and Austin Warren noted, the “problems of ‘nationality’ become especially complicated if we have to decide that literatures in the same language are distinct national literatures, as American and modern Irish assuredly are. Such a question as why Goldsmith, Sterne, and Sheridan do not belong to Irish literature, while Yeats and Joyce do, needs an answer” (Theory of Literature: A seminal study of the nature and function of literature in all its contexts. London: Penguin Books, 1985, p. 52).
  • What are the criteria to define the beginning of literary or cultural nationality? The language of the text? Religion? The ethnicity of the author or their country of residence?
  • How did religion as a component of identity influence literature and culture in the late ancient and medieval period? How did Soviet ideology shape the common features of different nations and ethnicities?

Please send your abstracts (100-200 words max) along with a brief CV to by 15th September 2015. The programme will be announced at the end of October.

For more details, please see the CFPs.

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