CFP: [American] Colonial Contexts / Contemporary Texts: Rewriting the Americas (11/01/08; ACLA, 3/26-29/09)

full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Coffman
contact email:

Colonial Contexts / Contemporary Texts: Rewriting the Americas (11/01/08;
ACLA, 3/26-29/09)

The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2009 Annual Meeting

Harvard U

26-29 March 2009

Since World War II, a number of authors have revisited the European
colonization of the Americas as a central theme of fiction and nonfiction
alike. This incorporation of pre-national contexts into postwar literary
works, a compression of past and present histories to articulate
contemporary concerns, is particularly well-suited to the conference
theme, “Global Languages, Local Cultures.” The largely decentralized
nature of colonial American geography, which incorporated, among others,
Spanish, French, British, and Portuguese powers vying for empire in the
New World, created cross-cultural fertilization with Indigenous, African,
and Asian cultures. Although the subsequent period of nation-building
throughout the western hemisphere emphasized newly-established political
boundaries, the return to the colonial era staged by postwar authors
seems to disrupt fundamental assumptions about the centrality and
independence of nations, regions, and cultures and favors instead a
decentralized, interdependent, and transnational America. Our aim is to
explore the resuscitation of colonial currents within post-World War II
cultural traditions and to question the new definitions of “America” and
the “American” that emerge out of them.

We welcome proposals for papers that explore the causes, characteristics,
and implications of contemporary representations of the colonial Americas
and/or offer new readings of exemplary texts. Hemispheric and
transoceanic readings of New World literatures are especially encouraged,
as are considerations of texts in multiple media.

Relevant questions include, but are not limited to, the following:
-What sociopolitical forces in contemporary societies compel certain
writers to embrace a colonial/pre-national remapping of North and South
American nations?
-How does the hemispheric imaginary of New World writers realign
cultural, social, and political cartographies, and what are the resulting
advantages and/or anxieties therein?
-What specific forms and sites of cultural transmission and migrations
are attendant upon the multivalent and porous colonial/contemporary
boundaries of the Americas?
-In what ways do contemporary literatures that invoke the colonial era
challenge national foundation myths and/or reinforce existing ones?
-In what ways do textual, visual, and/or physical qualities of books and
archival documents pertaining to the exploration, conquest, and
colonization of the Americas provide models for literatures of the global
-What consequences does the reinvention of the Americas hold for nations
and cultures overseas whose contact and exchange with the New World
extends back to the colonial period?

More information about the conference, and its seminar structure, may be
found at All paper proposals are due by 1
November 2008 and must be submitted by means of the appropriate forms on
the conference website. These forms are found by following the “Propose a
Paper or Seminar” link on the conference homepage.

Please send inquiries to seminar organizers Christopher K. Coffman
(Boston U) at and Antonio Barrenechea (U of Mary
Washington) at

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Received on Fri Sep 19 2008 - 12:44:38 EDT

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