In the Spirit of Nationalism: Reconsidering the Intersections of Nation and Literature

deadline for submissions: 
February 10, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
University of Ottawa, Department of English Graduate Student Conference

In the Spirit of Nationalism: Reconsidering the Intersections of Nation and Literature

Department of English Tenth Graduate Student Conference

University of Ottawa

17-19 March 2017


Current events, such as Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the Brexit vote, and the international affairs policies instilled by the Republican Party in the US, encourage a reconsideration of the concepts of nation, nationalism, and the nation centre. What has been the role of the nation in shaping cultural identities? What is the current place of the nation in a globalized world? Are nations defined by geographical boundaries? What is the role of literature as it intersects with these matters throughout history?


In Imagined Communities (1983), Benedict Anderson defines nation as “an imagined political community—and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (6), and attributes the rise of nationalism to the imperial expansions of eighteenth-century political regimes (11). Refuting Anderson’s historical analysis, Anthony Smith, in The Ethnic Origins of Nations (1987), claims that “the ‘modern nation’ in practice incorporates several features of pre-modern [myths, memories, values and symbols] and owes much to the general model of ethnicity which has survived in many areas until the dawn of the ‘modern era’” (18, our emphasis). The common ground of these positions remains, of course, the sharing of cultural similitudes, including literary production.  


This conference seeks to revive a conversation about the place and role of the nation, both throughout history and in present times, as well as how this reconsideration shapes our understanding of literature as a historical product of cultural mediation.


We welcome submissions from students, professors and independent scholars in all disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:


Early formations of the nation

Education and the national citizen

The (printing) press and national identity

(The) Media and national movements

Public and the counterpublics

Cultural legacies of nationalism

The clash of nationalisms

War and the development of nationhood

Imperialism and isolationism

Totalitarianism and propaganda

The nationalistic enterprise of the Left

The scholar and nationhood

Nationalism and globalization

The local, the national and the global

Multiculturalism and the national

The mosaic and national identity

The Post-National moment



We encourage irreverent and oppositional perspectives.

Please submit proposals of 300-400 words along with a brief (150 words) bio and an academic CV to by February 10th, 2017. We will notify applicants of our decisions by February 15th, 2017.

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