Faces of the Infinite (British Academy)

Faces of the Infinite: Neoplatonism and Poetics at the Confluence of Africa, Asia and Europe. A Three-Day Conference, Thursday 9 & Friday 10 November at the British Academy, Saturday 11 November at SOAS

What links Dante, Rumi, the Golden Age poetry of Spain, Ottoman panegyrics, Hebrew devotional verse and the musings of Muhammad Matar, one of the finest poets of modern Egypt? Very little, one would have thought. And yet these works carry the imprint of a common heritage which, through a range of intermediaries, can be traced back to Neoplatonism and its founding father Plotinus.

The Conference Faces of the Infinite represents a unique opportunity to get to know how the system of thought Plotinus devised merged with the literary traditions of Europe and the Middle East and came to be woven into texts which are acknowledged to this day as foundational and integral to their identities. Proceedings begin with a keynote address by Prof. Richard Taylor which explains the tenets of Neoplatonism and the decisive influence they have had on mysticism and the arts in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is followed by some 20 papers given by international experts on classical and modern poetry in Arabic, Greek, English, Hebrew, Italian, Persian, Spanish and Turkish. Each paper introduces the authors and texts to be discussed for the benefit of a non-specialist audience.

In seeking to bring this great literary panorama together for the first time, the Conference aims to explore to what extent these very different traditions are interconnected by a shared spiritual legacy. What does it mean for us today? Does it continue to carry to a message for an age of migration in which different cultures intermingle and are called upon to co-exist in the face of increasing challenges? Taken together, the conference papers will provide ample scope for reflection and debate on this most crucial of issues.

More information, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

In from the Cold: Northern Noir

Free, one-day event on Northern crime writing, crime fiction translation and criticism at Europe House, London Wednesday 18 October 2017.

Over the past decade there has been a boom in Northern European crime fiction – in books, film and on television. Characterised by dark, wintry settings and even darker themes, this ‘Northern Noir’ frequently addresses important questions about crime, social welfare, immigration, gender, family and marginalised, vulnerable citizens. This special symposium brings together some of Europe’s best crime writers, translators and critics to discuss the characteristics of northern crime fiction. How does crime fiction in Britain differ from Northern Europe? What are the cultural similarities and differences? Is it possible to define a recognisable ‘northern’ tradition of crime writing that crosses national borders? Our packed programme includes author interviews, readings and panels, academic talks, a translation slam and public workshops.

Entrance to this day of events is free but places are limited. You must reserve your place in advance and specify the ONE workshop you would like to attend. Stricter security measures are in place at Europe House so each ticket booked must indicate the actual name of the individual ticketholder.

You can reserve your ticket and view the full programme at the following website: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/in-from-the-cold-northern-noir-tickets-36860915992

CFP: Decentering Commemorations (Nancy and Musée des Beaux-Arts)

Call for Papers: « Decentering Commemorations »  Literary, Cultural, Historical and Political Celebrations across and beyond the British Isles. Friday 20th October 2017 Campus LSH, Nancy and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy

The year 2017-2018 marks multiple anniversaries that will be commemorated transnationally: the deaths of Mme de Staël and Jane Austen, the birth of Stanley Kubrick, the release of The Beatles album “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the end of World War One and the subsequent creation of new nation states, the Russian Revolution and the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.

Why and how will these literary figures, cultural productions and historical events be remembered/celebrated in individual countries and across Europe? In what ways and to what extent are these commemorations transferred from one cultural space to another across and beyond the British Isles? At a time of crisis concerning Europe’s identity and ideals, commemorations are not only intended as a nation-building process, they can also be appropriated by social or political groups. There is, indeed, a variety of actors at national, regional, and local levels, such as cultural institutions, museums, political parties and social media. The increasing mobility and instability in today’s world triggers off the opposite tendency of going back to one’s past, roots and heritage.

Governments and lobbies/corporations (such as Google) use landmarks to impose their readings of literary, cultural, and political history, while grassroots and communities gather together to organize their own celebrations or to celebrate differently and sometimes more informally and spontaneously (like Halloween, Woman’s Day, National Day, Labour Day, Earth Day).

Papers discussing the following topics from a theoretical or practical perspective are welcome:
-forms and modes of commemorating
-commemoration as an expression of soft power or a means of empowerment
-commemoration and technology (the choice imposed by search engines, social networks, e- media etc.)
-commemoration and cultural policies (celebrations through tourism, bilateral agreements, literary festivals etc.)
-commemoration and hyphenated/conflicting identities (bi-nationals, and “European nationals”) in the British Isles due to Devolution and Brexit
-posterity and literary canon (celebration of national and foreign authors)
-literary and visual adaptations
-publishing policies (book series, collected works, news items etc.)

Submission information: Proposals should not exceed 300 words (references excluded; 3 to 5 keywords and a short biography) and be submitted to decenteringcommemorations-contact@univ-lorraine.fr by Sept, 3rd 2017.

You will find the relevant information about the Conference at the following website:
https://idea-udl.org/identitescollectivesidentitesanglophoneseuropeennes/

Organising Committee:
Antonella Braida-Laplace
Céline Sabiron 
Roseline Théron
Jeremy Tranmer

CFP: BCLA – Unforeseen Consequences (Warwick)

The British Comparative Literature Association Postgraduate Conference, 11 November 2017,  University of Warwick

Unforeseen Consequences: Literatures of Protest and Political Struggle

 Keynote speaker: Dr Oliver Davis (University of Warwick)

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The British Comparative Literature Association invites papers for its annual postgraduate conference to be held at the University of Warwick on 11 November 2017. This conference intends to bring together postgraduate students from across the humanities to discuss questions relating to the impact of literature and the arts, viewed comparatively, on the formation of political discourses and actions of resistance to dominant institutional practices of oppression and control.

Will Self has asserted that the United Kingdom currently exists in a state of perpetual ‘unforeseen consequences’ in which the government ‘muddles and meddles,’ creating a sense of ambiguity that disguises serious neglect of human rights and broader social issues.  The conference intends to apply a global focus to this concept and explore literature’s response to times of political struggle, dangerous social policy, and oppressive institutional standards across the historical spectrum. As such we invite papers considering literature’s relation and responses to the following themes:

  • Struggles for political independence
  • Sovereignty and state power
  • Censorship and the surveillance state
  • Institutional control, mass incarceration and indefinite detention
  • Queer politics
  • Migration
  • Colonialism/decolonialism
  • Neoliberalism and its discontents
  • Feminism and intersectionality
  • Brexit, democracy and devolution
  • Literature, digital texts and social media.

Submissions need not be limited to these parameters and we welcome broad and creative interpretations of our theme.

Please send proposals of 250 words with 50 word bio by 23 September 2017 to bclapgrepresentative@gmail.com.

 

 

Writing, the State, and the Rise of Neo-Nationalism (Boston Uni., London)

Writing, the State, and the Rise of Neo-Nationalism: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Concerns, 30th June 2018, Boston University’s London Campus

In January 1868, John William De Forest took to the pages of The Nation with a call that would resound over the next century and a half: the writing of the “Great American Novel.” In so doing, he asserted both the shaping force of the nation on the arts, and the importance of the arts for the national imaginary. On the sesquicentennial of De Forest’s essay, the College of General Studies at Boston University will host a conference to explore the broader intersection of writing and the nation. This conference will meet on Boston University’s campus in London, England, on June 30, 2018. The conference will feature a keynote address by Daniel Karlin, Winterstoke Professor of English at the University of Bristol.

The exigency of ongoing scholarly consideration of the relation between the nation and writing could not be more apparent. The rise of populist and pro-national politicians and events such as Brexit place new strains on the architecture of globalization. A disruptive force, neo-nationalism has provoked anxiety about sustaining existing international institutions and prompted introspection within nations about the abiding ties of community and place.

This conference seeks a diverse range of panels and papers from scholars in literary studies, rhetoric, the social sciences, and other disciplines. Interdisciplinary papers and panels, and papers and panels addressing transatlantic subjects, are especially encouraged. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

• The portrayal of the nation-state in works of literature.
• Representations of the relationships among the local, regional, and (or) global.
• Challenges to, problems with, and affirmations of national belonging.
• Reflections on De Forest’s original essay in light of the past 150 years.
• The impact of socioeconomic changes on the project of a national literature.
• The ways in which technological development can re-inscribe narratives of the political unit.
• International exchanges on the idea of a “great” national literature.
• Consideration of forces that help construct or challenge nation-oriented narratives of literature.
• Characteristics and implications of neo-national oratory.
• Rhetorical analyses of neo-national propaganda.
• The role of national iconography for literary and artistic expression.
• The ways that marginalized populations can preserve or introduce their voices in the context of changes in the global landscape during the neo-national era.
• Reactions to and presentations of neo-nationalism in the arts.

Paper proposals should be 250-300 words in length and should include a brief CV.

Panel proposals should be 300–500 words in length; indicate whether the panel will be traditional, seminar, or roundtable style; and include the names and CVs of participants and working titles of their papers.

Submit all proposals to Christopher K. Coffman (ccoffman@bu.edu) and Thomas Finan (etfinan@bu.edu) no later than November 30, 2017.