Bildung Across Languages

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

The contemporary Bildungsroman has become a de-centered and globalised genre. An important consequence of this diversification has been the increasingly numerous representations of Bildung across languages. The impact that linguistic diversity and language ideologies have on the ways in which present-day stories of Bildung are told, received, and passed on has yet to be examined in a sustained fashion. After all, the Bildungsroman emerged as a literary genre contemporaneously with the advent of European modernity. As such, the genre has reflected the historical conjuncture that gave rise to the centripetal and exclusionary construction of the nation-state, buttressed by a unitary vision of the subject and her language, among other markers of identity. At the genre’s origins, thus, is a monolingual, unitary, and nationalistic vision of language; one that has traditionally informed and carried representations of Bildung.

In a world where our post-monolingual condition (Yildiz, 2011) is increasingly recognised, and where hybridity and various forms of displacement are rendering untenable the posited unity between language and nation, linguistic diversity has come to shape the Bildungsroman genre conventions in important ways. The diversifying scholarship on narratives of Bildung is certainly well-situated to productively grapple with the paradigm shift set forth by the “multilingual turn.”

This seminar asks: How do contemporary narratives of Bildung deploy and/or register linguistic diversity? How does that affect the construction and the interrogation of subjectivity that have been core components of the genre? How do multilingualism and language politics destabilise/shape the genre conventions of contemporary coming-of-age stories? How is this affected by the text’s circulation beyond its initial textual, cultural, and/or linguistic context?


We welcome proposals on (or related to) stories of Bildung and:



-Linguistic diversity

-Language politics

-Language ideologies

-Individual and collective forms of mobility

-“Minor” language communities

-Minority status (e.g. gender, ethnic, sexual orientation, racial, etc.)

-Textual circulation (e.g. translation, adaptation, remaking, etc.)

-Reception (across texts and contexts: esp. linguistic dimensions)



Interested participants will have from September 1 to September 21 to submit their paper proposals (1500 characters including spaces) through the ACLA portal.