The Mediterranean basin, conceived broadly as the lands and nations surrounding the Sea as well as the Sea itself, has been a site of near-constant change over the centuries, and the 20th century was no exception. Indeed, this was perhaps its most turbulent century ever: monarchies and empires gave way to nation-states; communist, autocratic and democratic governments rose and fell in peace and war alike, including and excluding often hostile peoples under constantly shifting national borders, even as they strove for independence and integration in an increasingly globalized world.
This seminar will look at modernity through the prism of the Mediterranean: How do poets, novelists, dramatists and other artists describe the Mediterranean in the 20th century? How do they define the Mediterranean as a physically and ideologically contested space? How do they adopt and adapt the modernist aesthetic sensibility to the political, social and cultural changes – both cataclysmic and subtle – of the Mediterranean in the 20th century? How do they relate to the political, social and cultural institutions which both fostered and hindered change? How do they conceive of the Mediterranean itself as a geographic and terrestrial space? How do Mediterranean writers in these national languages fit within the larger historical contexts of Europe and the world and how does the rest of the world engage with the Mediterranean?
Papers addressing any Mediterranean national literature, but particularly those with a comparative perspective, are welcome. Artistic responses to the Mediterranean in other media (film, music, painting, photography) are also encouraged.