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UPDATE: Postponement of BCLA Postgraduate Conference, St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford, 29 November 2019

Statement from the organisers concerning the postponement of the BCLA Postgraduate Conference “Radical Retellings: Fairy Tales, Myth and Beyond”, St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford, 29 November 2019

Given the likelihood of industrial action later this month, we are deeply sorry to announce that the upcoming BCLA 2019 Postgraduate Conference will no longer take place on Friday 29th November 2019 and will instead be postponed until a yet-to-be-confirmed date early in the new year. This was a very difficult decision for us to make as BCLA conference organizers and postgraduate representatives, not least because a great deal of work has already gone into the preparation for the event, but we cannot in good conscience proceed given the current circumstances and we are writing to you to explain why.

While not all organizers, participants, and attendees of the BCLA postgraduate conference may be members of UCU, we as postgraduate representatives are supportive of those taking a stand in the potential upcoming strikes against the casualisation of work contracts and the attacks on pension rights, which for most early career researchers and postgraduate students in the UK come on top of enormous student debt. Although the BCLA’s postgraduate conference is not strictly speaking a university-organised event, it may still impact various REF submissions and benefit employers and, given that many postgraduates also teach at their universities, we do not wish to force any participants and attendees who may support industrial action to be obliged to find cover for their teaching or to risk a form of strike-breaking in which they may not wish to engage. Finally, although there is still the chance that negotiations will prevent strikes from occurring – as we sincerely hope will be the case – we felt it would not be prudent to wait and see what happens, but to proactively make a decision and take a firm position before it is too late.

We are certain that you as attendees and participants will be just as disappointed and frustrated as we are as organizers of the conference and as postgraduate representatives of the BCLA. We are saddened and angry at this turn of events; we ask for your understanding and your patience in this matter; and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. Nevertheless, we would please ask that any feelings of disappointment or frustration regarding this difficult decision not be directed towards the BCLA nor towards any of its members, but rather towards universities and USS for their ongoing refusal to value academic work and honour pensions agreements, while continuing the casualisation and overloading of the Higher Education sector, and ultimately forcing strike action to be taken.

Strikes such as these throw up many dilemmas like the one we have found ourselves in this week, particularly since we as academics do tend to feel that we do our research for ourselves and each other rather than for our managers or institutions. But strikes are supposed to cause inconvenience – indeed, that is how they have their impact – and we feel it is neither right nor appropriate to go ahead with the conference as planned when industrial action is potentially taking place.

In solidarity,

The BCLA Postgraduate Representatives

Call for Papers: Cultural Literacy Symposium, 14-15 May 2020: Research in the Arts, the Arts in Research

Below is the Call for Papers for a Symposium, under the auspices of Cultural Literacy in Europe, to be held at the University of Łódź, Poland on 14-15 May 2020. The title is Research in the Arts, the Arts in Research. The Symposium is particularly designed for Early-Career researchers and the focus is on discussion and debate.

The closing date for proposals is Friday 29 November 2019. For all information about CLE and this Symposium, see

Please pass this CFP on to all relevant colleagues, students & artists.

Research in the Arts, the Arts in Research


Thursday 14 – Friday 15 May 2020 at the University of Łódź, Poland

Artists study the reality they are surrounded by, people they live among, themselves, their instruments of work and how these areas are interconnected. Their work addresses complex issues, establishing dynamic relationships to a whole variety of other disciplines, from philosophy to new technologies. Their creative activity generates knowledge that could not be gained otherwise. Artistic knowledge is acquired through sensory and emotional perception and is practice-based, practice-driven, ‘felt’, ‘embodied’. It crosses the borders of different countries, languages, cultures, disciplines. Many artistic research projects are genuinely multicultural and interdisciplinary. Yet artists still often have to justify the idea that their practice is research.

Academic research too has become increasingly inter- and multidisciplinary. Cultural Literacy [CL] is the ability to think in literary ways about any topic or question, using the key concepts of textuality, fictionality, rhetoricity and historicity (see How can the creative arts and CL come together to think about the contemporary world?

This Symposium is designed to generate active discussion, focusing on thinking and talking rather than formal presentations. If your proposal is accepted, it will be included in a ‘book of presentations’ that all participants will be asked to read in advance of the Symposium. The contributions will be grouped together into parallel break-out sessions of 90 minutes during which each presenter will briefly summarise their points and the subsequent discussion will aim to explore the key theme of the panel.


  • Creative work as a source of cultural, social, psychological and political information;
  • Interpreting art works as cultural, political or pedagogical products;
  • Rethinking the role of art and the artist in society;
  • Art in multicultural and multilingual contexts (the questions of translation, cross-cultural understanding, multicultural conviviality, etc.);
  • The subjectivity and reliability of claims in artistic research;The relevance of artistic research for developing skills for cultural literacy and the potential of cultural literacy to inform artistic research;
  • The relationship between the artistic work, the critical text and the viewer/ reader/experiencer;
  • Objects of high culture and popular culture (for example, novels, poetry books, graphic novels, performances, events, films, memes, tweets, blogs, comic strips, tabloids, computer games, advertisements among others) as learning material about reality in which we live.

Researchers & artists who are either more senior or in early-career are welcome to submit a proposal, though preference may be given to the latter. ’Early-career’ includes postgraduates and academics up to 10 years after completion of the PhD, and artists in the first 10 years of their creative activity.

You are invited to submit a proposal in English for a 5-minute presentation. It should consist of your name, affiliation, email address, title, a 300-word statement on any area of the symposium topic and a mini-biography (max. 300 words). Please send this to Naomi Segal ( and Joanna Kosmalska ( by the deadline of Friday 29 November 2019. Proposals that arrive after this date will not be considered.

A number of bursaries for Early-career researchers & postgraduates will be available to support attendance at the 2020 symposium. The competition for these bursaries will be announced in mid-December 2019.

Prior membership of CLE is required; see


Standard                             €150 / PLN 650
Students (+ ID)/ Unwaged  €75 / PLN 330

The registration fee includes coffee breaks, lunch, and all conference documentation.

Booking will open on 16 December 2019 & close on 27 March 202o

For all information: see

The Cambridge Companion to World Literature: Seminar and Book Launch, 30 October 2019

The Cambridge Companion to World Literature
Seminar & Book Launch
Queen Mary University of London, 30 October 2019, 5-7pm Arts Two 3.20 and SCR

You’re warmly invited to join us for the launch of The Cambridge Companion to World Literature to be introduced by Galin Tihanov, George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature, Queen Mary.

The launch will consist of a short seminar and a wine reception with nibbles. Editors Ben Etherington and Jarad Zimbler will be in conversation with contributors Shital Pravinchandra and Charlotta Salmi.

Copies of the Companion will be available for sale for £15 (cash only).

The event is free and all are welcome. Please RSVP to: Ben Etherington b.etherington@westernsydney and Charlotta Salmi

You can also register here:

Download the flyer and poster for the event  here

Seminar (5-5.45PM): Arts Two building, room 3.20
Reception (5.45-7PM): Arts Two building, Senior Common Room

Call for Papers: Literature and Event, University of Warwick, February 15 2020

Keynote Speakers:
 Call for Papers
 Deadline: 10th November, 2020

What is an event? From a theoretical perspective, events are irregular occurrences, moments of great change or interruptions that can potentially alter the already existing course of history, politics and thought. These changes also simultaneously remould, or at least aim to, human perception and language, which makes them an indispensable part of literature and literary thinking. While literature has referred to these calamitous changes directly, by way of description or through diegetic context, on numerous occasions literature has, for various reasons, failed to come to terms with these events or has actively resisted or undercut them. The literary has also been defined, particularly after the post-structuralist interventions, as an event in its own right, with its own strategy and ambitions to affect change. At the same time this relationship has also been entirely dismissed in readings where literature has been thought of as registering the non-events or the micro-events (madeleine cakes for Proust) that would otherwise pass unnoticed in a political or a historical discourse. This conference is addressed to all such relations between literature and its events, but more eagerly to the event that literature itself becomes and the non-event that it said to sometimes emerge from.

This dense, and often challenging, relationship between literature and event(s) has been, arguably, the driving force behind many of the reformulations of the literary carried out in the twenty-first century so far. These changing ‘definitions’ of the literary event or what the event, generally, entails have come from fields as diverse as literary studies, history, political theory, psychology, natural sciences and, more significantly, philosophy. The conference will appeal to scholars from all these diverse disciplines who at some point either have had to define literature/event or had to grapple with its new and elusive stipulations.The questions that this conference aims to address are three-fold:
What is literature’s approach to the event? How does literature respond to event(s), monumental changes, ruptures and transitions? Can literature be understood as an event in its own right?

1. Concept

The papers in the conference can address some of the pressing concepts related to the event directly, such as irregularity, chance, accident, hospitality and non-event, that have occupied literary studies, political theory and philosophy in the recent past. Addressing the literary fold specifically, the conference will be able to build on more recent research by scholars such as Derek Attridge, whose The Work of Literature(2015) understands events as having a singular, disruptive and yet formative presence in literary work, Ilai Rowner, who provides the event with a conceptual and literary history with his The Event: Literature and Theory (2015) and, written in a very different vein, Terry Eagleton’s The Event of Literature (2012).

2. Testimony

The question of testimony, or its lack, looms large when discussing literature’s response to event. The conference invites scholars to re-think literature’s response to the event and entropy that surrounds us, on the lines that it has been thought about in the last decade. If literature testifies, or tries to testify, to events of insurrections, it also testifies to sexual awakenings, to natural disasters, personal trauma and pain. These testimonies do not find an easy utterance, and despite finding a medium they can be a source of embarrassment, discontent and shame, as argued in Timothy Bewes’ The Event of Postcolonial Shame (2010). The papers in this conference could look at all such events and their importance for literary work, they could also simultaneously expose the impossibility of testimony itself, if not its need in the first place. Taking a cue from Heidegger’s use of the word Ereignis (event)—an event is as much a moment of revelation (Eräugnis) for the literary work as a site of appropriation (Eriegnung) and ultimately loss, which is how this conference wishes to broach the question of testimony too.

3. Literature as Event

Provocations of ideas such as plasticity and contingency, strongly forwarded by the philosophers Catherine Malabou and Quentin Meillassoux, are exciting new responses to the event and what it means for literature. While plasticity destabilizes our understanding of form, and thereby what constitutes as an event, contingency revokes the claims of reason and causal necessity that is often attached to events. In this segment of the conference, the experience of literature—as an act of both writing and reading—will be understood as an event in its own right. Despite the struggle to capture the intensity of the event, or remain faithful to it, literature can, and often does, become the site of change and alterity itself. Papers will be able to take forward the imaginings of a literary event put forward by influential thinkers like Derrida (on Celan) and Deleuze (on Proust), whereby literature is appraised for the transformative encounter it allows in the shape of an event.

The conference invites abstracts that address, but may not necessarily be restricted to, the following areas:

  • Theories of Event and Literary Event 
  • Questions of Testimony and Writing
  • Literature and Change
  • Plasticity, Contingency and Speculation
  • Practices of Reading
  • Fragility and Literature
  • Biopolitical Events
  • Climate‘change’asanundoingofallevents
  • Theories of Non-Event
  • Postcolonialiality and Event
  • Re-definition of event from a world-literature perspective 

Inviting proposals for 20-minute presentations. Please submit at least 350-word abstracts, along with a short biographical note (50-100 words) by November 10th, 2019 to

We hope to support costs of attendance for international applicants. Please let us know if you wish to be considered.

Warwick Research Seminars for 2019-2020: Excavating the Anthropocene

We are pleased to announce a series of Environmental Humanities research seminars organized during the academic year 2019-2020 on the theme of “Excavating the Anthropocene” running at the University of Warwick:

This programme is supported through the IAS Award with the aim of establishing Environmental Humanities as a new field of cross-disciplinary research at Warwick. Each term will treat a different aspect of this topic: “Visualising the Anthropocene” (Term 1), “Sounding the Anthropocene” (Term 2), “Conceptualising the Anthropocene” (Term 3).

The next seminar will be a presentation by the artist Ignacio Costa, Wed, 30 Oct. 2019, 5pm – 7pm. Location: Social Sciences – S2.81 (Please see Warwick Interactive map here for this room)

Presentation of Ignacio Acosta’s work is followed by a reading group:

TJ Demos, “Between Rebel Creativity and Reification: For and Against Visual Activism”, in Journal of Visual Culture (2016):