British Comparative Literature Association Postgraduate Conference 2023

Registration for the conference has now closed: however, the programme for the event may be downloaded here.

The BCLA Postgraduate Conference  and Early Career Conference 2023, “Spectres, Spectrums and Spectrality: New and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Comparative and World Literature” will take place at the University of Warwick, 12 – 13 October 2023.
See the full call for papers below, along with the final programme.

BCLA Annual Postgraduate Conference 2023

Spectres, Spectrums and Spectrality: New and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Comparative and World Literature.

12 – 13 October 2023
The University of Warwick

Keynote speaker: Dr Caroline Summers

The British Comparative Literature Association encourages postgraduates to organise conferences on comparative literature throughout the UK. Every year, the Postgraduate Representatives support and organise a conference on a variety of themes.

The 2023 British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA) Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher conference aims to assess new pathways emerging in the broad and varied fields of Comparative and World Literature, interrogating new developments in these disciplines through the notions of spectres, spectrums and spectralities. The open theme of this two-day conference seeks to ensure inclusivity and flexibility for prospective speakers, allowing for expanded opportunities for interdisciplinary networking among PGRs and ECRs. The Friday of the conference will focus on research impact, including external speakers and workshops around impact both within and outside the discipline and the academy.

2023 marks two decades since Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak provocatively declared the death of Comparative Literature (2003), and yet the discipline seems to live on, perhaps enacting its very own afterlife or spectral existence. Notions of the boundaries of Comparative Literature, including, importantly, who and what is included in Comparative and World Literature, are being pushed from all directions. Scholars from the fields of philosophy, gender studies, anti-/de-/post-colonial studies, queer studies, disabilities studies, translation studies, and the environmental humanities, to name a few, continue to produce vital work in expanding the temporal and geographic spectrum of the “world” of Comparative and World Literature. We welcome papers exploring any and all aspects of these broad and wide-reaching notions, from Derrida’s notion of the spectre of “a disjointed or disadjusted now” (1994), to questions of authorship, translation, and the text itself as “spectre”. 

This conference looks to expand on those debates, taking the notions of spectres, spectralities, and spectrums as a jumping board from which to examine more broadly the discipline of Comparative and World Literary Studies. We welcome papers exploring any and all aspects of these broad and wide-reaching notions, including, but not limited to:

Literature’s capacity to respond to real-world threats / menaces / spectres
Literature as a spectre
Representations of spectres / threats in literature
Literary afterlives / resurrections
Authorial afterlives/resurrections
Posterity, death, resurrection, memory in literature
Representation of various spectrums in literature (sexualities, neurodivergences, political identities)
The various spectrums that literature negotiates (disciplines, genres, languages)
Literature’s role in rethinking the past/rewriting the future
Spectral criticisms
Spectral spaces
Adaptations and spectres of fidelity
Future/past spectral literary influences
Translation as a textual spectre
Spectres of authorship/the figure of the author as a spectre throughout their texts/ translations
The gothic/horror and spectre as genre

We invite Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers working in the fields of Comparative and World Literature, broadly defined, to submit abstracts for 15-minute papers. Papers may be presented on any form of literature from any cultural context, although the lingua franca of the conference will be English. Applicants need not be current members of the BCLA, although the opportunity to join will be available during the conference.

Please send paper proposals of up to 300 words and a short biographical note to by 31st July 2023.

Call for Flash Presentations

Showcase your research! We welcome proposals from MA and PhD students to present a snapshot of their research in five minutes, using one PowerPoint slide OR one creative method of their choosing. Presentations may be on any topic related to Comparative and/or World Literature. To express interest in giving a flash presentation, please email by 31st July 2023 with a short biographical note.

In order to make this conference as accessible as possible, modest travel grants will be available to a small number of participants. If you would like to be considered, please state your interest in our grant scheme when sending your proposal, and where you will be travelling from.

This conference is generously supported by the British Comparative Literature Association and the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts at the University of Warwick.

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