The familiar becomes frightening - the notion of the uncanny

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Academy of Humanities and Economics
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Academy of Humanities and Economics in Łódź, Poland
Faculty of Philology

Invites all the interested scholars to participate in an international two-day conference:

The familiar becomes frightening – the notion of the uncanny in language and culture

26th-27th November 2009

The general topic of the conference is related to the idea of the uncanny and its various aspects, echoes, and repercussions. In particular, we are going to bear in mind the statement by Siegmund Freud, in his famous article The Uncanny (Das Unheimliche): “Thus heimlich (the familiar) is a word the meaning of which develops in the direction of ambivalence, until it finally coincides with its opposite unheimlich (the uncanny)”. Consequently, the locus of the uncanny may be found in the most surprising, or indeed apparently humdrum, places, being itself a place where the extremes meet, or, as Nicholas Royle puts it, where “the familiar and the unfamiliar commingle”. Hence, we should not be surprised that many contributions for our conference will touch upon the highly paradoxical nature of the uncanny, which is, naturally (or perhaps ‘unnaturally’?), a good metaphor of the world and the civilization in which we happen to live, a metaphor of our post-modern, or perhaps already strongly ‘un-post-modern’, or, even ‘post-post-modern’ reality, as some, rather uncannily, like to call it.

We welcome then all papers concerned with the condition of contemporary culture, language, and literature, as seen from the point of view of its most disquieting, unexpected, challenging, puzzling, that is uncanny, aspects. There will be, however, enough room also for those who delve in the past, and in old books, because, after all, there is hardly anything more uncanny than a haunted house, and the idea of haunting is of course based, just like the idea of the uncanny, on the eternal return of what is, only very superficially, dead and buried.

The suggested topics might include but are not limited to

Areas/themes to explore in literature and culture:
- concept of the uncanny in literary theory
- the “double”, hybrid and split identity
- coincidence and involuntary repetition
- madness
- clones, androids, cyborgs, liminal beings, etc.
- the apparent death and the re-animation of the dead
- depersonalization

Areas/themes to explore in linguistics:
- advertising and political discourse
- duplicity of language
- nature of paradoxes
- the language of the new media
- misleading translation

We invite abstracts of up to 250 words. It should include your affiliation and contact details. Deadline for topic proposals and abstracts is 30th September 2009. The organising committee will notify all the potential conference participants about the acceptance of their proposals by 10th October. The official languages of the conference are Polish, German and English.

The conference will be held at:
Academy of Humanities and Economics in Łódź
Faculty of Philology

The conference fee covers conference materials, coffee breaks and lunches.
A selection of conference papers will be published by Academy of Humanities and Economics Press (Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Humanistyczno-Ekonomicznej w Łodzi).

Conference fee 250PLZ (60 Euro)
Doctoral students 200PLZ (50 Euro)
Delegates without papers 150PLZ (35 Euro)

The account number and further details will be sent to the conference participants in the next circular. The fee should be paid by 25th October.

We can assist the participants in their hotel bookings or local Halls of Residence.

Prof. dr hab. Andrzej Wicher, Prof. dr hab. Marek Ostrowski, Dr Katarzyna Szmigiero, Mgr Justyna Jaworska, Mgr Magdalena Nowacka

Please direct any questions and abstracts to

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