The End of Place as We Know It: Shifting Perspectives on Literature and Place, September 17-19, 2014

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University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The End of Place as We Know It:
Shifting Perspectives on Literature and Place

Keynotes: Professor Edward Casey and Professor Timothy Morton
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, September 17-19, 2014

Literatures of place have often been considered conservative and reactionary. We see this expressed in the longing for a pastoral return to a former Golden Age, in the nostalgic desire to rediscover the home of a long lost childhood, or in that of national extremism as expressed through a practice of territorial and racial purity. However, contemporary theorists have pointed out that 'place' is not a stable entity. Place is 'radically indeterminate – it is intrinsically in question, is a question' (Timothy Morton, Ecology Without Nature). Accordingly, if 'place itself is no fixed thing' (Edward Casey, The Fate of Place), then place has the capacity to 'change us, not through some visceral belonging (some barely changing rootedness, as so many would have it) but through the practicing of place' (Doreen Massey, For Space). An attachment to, and investment in, place can be gainfully employed to open up, rather than close down, questions of identity, territory, and nationality.

Yet it is not simply the theory of place that has undergone fundamental change in recent years. Our lives have been changed due to the rapid development in transportation and communication technologies, explosive growth in migrant mobility, a rise in global population, as well as the sudden shifts enacted by natural and manmade disasters. The fabric of place is changing physically as well as socially. In addition, the breakdown of barriers between the human and the inhuman, the citizen and the foreigner, the actual and the virtual, has complicated questions of belonging for individuals as for entire communities.

The conference invites paper submissions ranging from re-readings of place and texts traditionally considered to be regressive and restrictive, to discussions of contemporary writings on place. Topics might include but are not limited to:

• Scale: reinvisioning place and planet, local and global, intimacy and distance
• Mobility: migrant, diasporic, transnational and global place
• Non-place: generic place and commodified place
• The inhuman: animal, industrial and technological place
• The country and the city: the increase of urbanization and its impact on perceptions of place as pastoral and rural
• Apocalypse: the effect of disasters violently upending the stability of place
• Entropy and toxicity: the impact of resource depletion, global warming, pollution and other 'slow' disasters on place
• Digital place: the impact of digitalisation on our perceptions of place as a physical entity
• Imaginary place: science-fiction, fantasy, gothic and weird place

Please send a 300 word abstract to by April 15, 2014 if you wish to submit a paper to the conference.