Cultural Representations of the City International Conference

full name / name of organization: 
University of Bucharest




The English Department of the University of Bucharest invites proposals for the Literature and Cultural Studies section of its 18th Annual Conference:

Cultural Representations of the City

Dates: 2–4 June, 2016
Venue: The Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures,
Str. Pitar Mos 7–13, Bucharest, Romania

Invited Speakers:
Prof. Sir Drummond Bone (Balliol College, University of Oxford)
Prof. Monica Matei-Chesnoiu (Ovidius University of Constanţa)
Dr Bart Eeckhout (University of Antwerp)
Prof. Augustin Ioan (Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest)

As a product of the history of civilization, the city has always, and inextricably, been linked to social, economic, cultural and political factors which have either hampered or bolstered its gradual development. It was co-extensive with the emergence of what Stephen Kern (1983) called a burgeoning "culture of time and space" taken as an acute awareness of the contemporary at the dawn of modernity. Extended in space and time, such awareness has been highly sensitive to 19th-century massive industrialization, the rise of urban planning and the Fordist paradigm in the 20th century and, ultimately, to the birth of the postmodern metropolis.
Over the past two decades, scholars have shown a deep interest in "the spatial turn" (Edward Soja, 2000) prompted by a major shift in urban, sociological, anthropological and architectural studies. Heavily relying on an interdisciplinary approach, space has been tackled in close relationship with society and history, a triad able to remap the history of cityspace and to redefine key concepts like lieu, landscape, geography, region, location, habitat, etc. Sociologist Henri Lefebvre's analysis of the perceived, conceived and lived space (1974) and Michel Foucault's study on heterotopias (1986), i.e. counter-sites or "effectively enacted utopias" in which the real sites that are found in a culture are simultaneously represented, contested and inverted" are telling examples that question the traditional opposition empirical/mental space. Such a culturally-valued space has been the arena of conflicting attitudes towards social, cultural, national, ethnic and gender identity, transforming the city into the locus where urban performance unfolds itself at its best.
Playing a crucial role in the construction of cultural identity, literary representations of the city may be regarded as "archi-texts" which appropriate empirical topographies with the purpose of projecting and transforming them into utopian, eutopian or dystopian images of urban lived experience, imaginary lands and communities, pastoral or sublime landscapes of the mind, phantasmagoric visions, national myths, archetypal spaces, symbolic cities, sites of memory, individual and collective self-reflexivity, secluded, anonymous, alienated or invisible spaces, sexual idealizations of the self, colonial and postcolonial geographies, highly technologized cities of the future or posthuman cityscapes.
The aim of the conference is to address issues related to how the city has been perceived, represented and imagined in literature and the arts, to the manner in which representations of the city have been shaped by various social, cultural, economic, historical and political contexts and, last but not least, to how literary and other cultural texts reflect and influence our perception of cityspace.

We invite papers addressing topics including (but by no means limited to) the following:
– the city as a sacred space and product of civilization;
– myths, legends and archetypes that forge the identity of the city;
– symbolic functions of the city: the city-state, the capital, the metropolis, the postmetropolis, the imperial city;
– the "Spatial Turn": urban revolutions over time and their reflection in literature;
– the city as a space of performance;
– the city as a space of contestation;
– constructions of spatiality and temporality;
– relationships between the city and economic and industrial development (the rise of capitalism, the city's response to technological change, etc.);
– the relationship between the city and its socio-cultural materiality (churches, schools, university, parks, monuments, clubs, pubs, the mass-media, etc.);
– the city as text/palimpsest; the semiotics of the city;
– myth-making and the city;
– flânerie or the practice of walking in the city;
– the countryside-town-city relationship;
– affections and the city (stations and airports as spaces of emotional good-byes; emotional intimacy and the destruction/recreation of the city);
– national/transnational/global accounts of the city;
– representations of migration, naturalization, hyphenated and diasporic identities;
– memory and the urban landscape (alienation, estrangement, detachment, nostalgia about vanished places);
– representations of heterotopias (the asylum, the prison, the hospital, the cemetery, etc.);
– (post)communist, (post)colonial representations of the city;
– youth culture and the city;
– production/consumption rituals and practices;
– the relationship between centre (the "inner city") and periphery (the "outer city"), urban and sub-urban, centre and satellite cities;
– the city as a space of cultural production;
– representations of the Postfordist industrial metropolis, Cosmopolis (the globalized city-region), megacities, fractal cities, hyperral Simcities, invisible cities, posthuman cities;
– the city's role in (re)configuring the identity of ethnic groups and sexual minorities.

In honour of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, we also invite proposals for a panel on the theme "Shakespeare 400 in Romania" to be held as part of the conference programme. We would like to take stock of possible changes in Shakespeare's canonical position, and would welcome papers focusing on Shakespeare performances, translations, and academic studies in post-socialist Romania.

Conference presentations should be in English, and will be allocated 20 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for discussion. Prospective participants are invited to submit abstracts of up to 200 words. Proposals should be in .doc or .docx format, and should also include name and institutional affiliation, a short bio (no more than 100 words), and e-mail address. Proposals for panel discussions (to be organized by the participant) will also be considered.

A selection of papers from the conference will be published in University of Bucharest Review (ISSN 2069–8658; listed on Scopus, EBSCO (Literary Reference Centre Plus), CEEOL, and Ulrichsweb; CNCS category B). See the guidelines for contributors at

Deadline for proposals: 12 March 2016
Please send proposals (and enquiries) to
The conference fee of 50 euro (or 200 lei if paid in Romanian currency) is payable in cash on registration, and covers lunches and refreshments during the conference, but not evening meals.

For further details and updates, see and .
(Enquiries regarding the Linguistics section of the conference, which will be running at the same time as the Literature and Cultural Studies section, should be sent to
We look forward to welcoming you in Bucharest,

The organizing committee:

Dr Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru
Dr Alina Bottez
Dr James Brown
Antonia Gîrmacea
Dr Eliana Ionoaia
Dragoș Manea
Prof. Mădălina Nicolaescu
Madeline Potter
Dr Martin Potter
Dr Anamaria Schwab
Dr Ioana Zirra

Advisory Board:
Dr Nazmi Ağıl (Koç University, Istanbul)
Prof. José Manuel Estévez-Saá (University of
A Coruña)
Dr Felicity Hand (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Prof. Michael Hattaway (University of Sheffield)
Prof. Carl Lavery (University of Glasgow)
Prof. Domnica Rădulescu (Washington and Lee University, Lexington)