"Vladimir Nabokov: History and Geography"

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Société Française Vladimir Nabokov

International Symposium « Vladimir Nabokov : History and Geography »6-8 June 2019, Paris, Sorbonne University / University of Cergy-Pontoise
Organized by Société française Vladimir Nabokov


 Keynote speakers: Isabelle Poulin (Bordeaux-Montaigne University) and Will Norman (University of Kent).


   The year 2019 will be an important one in Nabokov studies. It will mark a hundred years since the beginning of the writer’s exile, forced in 1919 to leave Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. It will also mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ada, or Ardor (1969), a major novel in which the author reconfigures history and geography on a global scale.    The historical and geographical dimensions of Nabokov’s work remain relatively understudied for reasons having to do with a certain tradition of critical interpretation and reception. By examining the connections between Nabokov’s texts and history and geography, we would like to read Nabokov against the grain by questioning certain interpretations that insist on the autotelic character of his work and its resistance to historical and geographical discourses. History and geography represent however two major concerns in Nabokov’s writings, which work in close interaction and the study of which has recently brought to the fore a new understanding of Nabokov.

   This conference invites readers and researchers to explore the representations of history and geography in the writer’s work, in connection to the changes of place and language, as well as the historical evolutions that marked Nabokov’s life and career. Researchers may address questions having to do with referentiality and the ways in which historical and geographical realities are transmuted into fiction. From this perspective, we encourage analyses that explore the various spaces and times in Nabokov’s fiction, among which: Russia (its language, literary tradition, culture and history, the memories attached to it as well as its retrospective construction); Germany, Berlin and emigration; Germany and the rise of Nazism; Paris and the “blood spots” staining the streets in the wake of the Revolution; Paris and emigration; America as the land of territorial exploration and butterfly-hunting, where highbrow and pop cultures mingle; Switzerland as neutral ground, in relation with the suspension of history and the mode of the pastoral in Ada. We will also welcome reflections on what the oft-used words “invention” and “creation” signify in the construction of Nabokov’s novelistic universes; also of interest will be the metaphor of writing as creation and exploration of a world discussed in “Good Readers and Good Writers.”

In light of these themes and reflections, topics may include but are not restricted to:

- Historical and geographical sources in Nabokov’s work

- Referentiality and fictionalization of historical and geographical reality

- Poetic treatment and metamorphoses of history and geography

- Rereadings and rewritings of historical events, political regimes, ideologies and philosophies of history

- Reinvention and recreation of history and geography

- Imaginary worlds

- Writing about exploration, writing as exploration

- Travels, journeys, exploration, movement and displacement

- Nabokovian spaces and times in translation

- The critical reception of Nabokov’s texts in relation with history and geography

Proposals, in English or in French, must be submitted to:

The deadline for submissions is December 15, 2018.
Feedback will be provided by January 20, 2019.

Symposium organizers:

Yannicke Chupin (University of Cergy-Pontoise) : yannicke.chupin@vladimir-nabokov.orgAgnès Edel-Roy (Paris-Est Créteil University) : agnes.edelroy@vladimir-nabokov.orgAnne-Marie Lafont (Société française Vladimir Nabokov) : anne-marie.lafont@vladimir-nabokov.orgMonica Manolescu (University of Strasbourg) : monica.manolescu@vladimir-nabokov.orgSigolène Vivier (Sorbonne University) : sigolene.vivier@vladimir-nabokov.org