Nationalism and its Others: Literary Genealogies (ACLA 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
J. Engel Szwaja-Franken and Samuel Jaffee
contact email: 

The invention of nations in the 19th and 20th century entailed the creation of national literatures, often assembled anachronistically to fashion adoptive literary ancestors fit for a modern people. Literature has thus been instrumental in the construction and maintenance of nationalism, but it has also played a privileged role for regionalist and counter-nationalist projects, many of which have drawn on literature when assembling their own genealogies. Our seminar aims to consider both how nations and nationalism are constitutive of the space and scope of literature (e.g. the cultivation of a national literature, and political museumizing through literature), and also examine literary projects at odds with the form and space of the nation.

We will focus on the productive tension of this contradictory interdependence and its effects both in literature and in the wider politics of region, place, niche, borders, and community. A genealogy must grapple with the tension and contradictions described above: in examining the genealogies drawn by and for literature, we thus aim to contribute to a critical genealogy of our notions of literary nationalism and its others. What do we talk about when we envision these others? Who, where, from when, and until when are they?

We invite submissions in this vein from a range of places, periods, languages, literatures, cultures, colonies and post-colonies, nations and non-nations, and theoretical approaches.

Possible topics may include:

–The relationship of nation as form, and the formal, generic dimension of literature (e.g. the politics of the novel in newly-invented 19th century Latin American nations)

–The construction of regional consciousness (e.g. Juan Rulfo’s ekphrasis or J. M. Arguedas’s Quechua poetry)

–Multiple logics in the construction of a contested place (e.g. William T. Vollmann’s writings on the Imperial Valley)

–Ecocritical approaches to setting and landscape as identitarian arguments (e.g. Dorothy Hewett’s Australian pastoral)

–Genealogies of places and peoples at the margins of the national center (e.g. Edouard Glissant’s novels on Martinique)

–Literary challenges to nationalist projects (e.g. Rosario Castellanos’s critique of shared belief in Mexico)

–The politics of nostalgia and reappropriation of pre-national social life (e.g. Joseph Roth on Habsburg Galicia)

We are also open to comparative work on the contributions of other arts to this problematic.

Please submit abstracts between 9/1 and 9/23 at https://www.acla.org/nationalism-and-its-others-literary-genealogies