Literary Universals Workshop

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Connecticut
contact email: 


The University of Connecticut, Storrs 

24 May 2019 

Announcement and Call for Papers 

Literary universals include properties and structures ranging, for example, from genre patterns through metaphor and imagery, and from ethical or political themes through formal features of prosody. Technically, literary universals are features of literary works that recur across unrelated literary traditions with greater frequency than would be predicted by chance. Traditions are unrelated if they are distinct in their sources and have not influenced each other through interaction, at least not with respect to the feature under consideration. Thus, early Chinese and early European poetry count as unrelated by this definition, but Latin New Comedy and English Renaissance comedy would not count as unrelated. (For further information on literary universals, see 

Though the study of literary universals was dormant for some time, developments in cognitive and affective science have revived the study of cross-cultural literary patterns, enabling new insights into their nature and origins. Moreover, the study of such patterns holds promise for contributing to our understanding of human cognition and emotion, thus cognitive and affective science themselves. 

This workshop will explore topics in the study of literary universals. Confirmed speakers include Joseph Carroll, Patrick Colm Hogan, and Geoffrey Russom. 

There will be a limited number of panels, with presentations of fifteen to twenty minutes on specific topics in literary universals. Researchers interested in speaking at the workshop should submit 300-word abstracts to the organizers, Severi Luoto ( and Arnab Roy (, by 1 March 2019. In keeping with the principles of the study of universals in literature, linguistics, and elsewhere, papers should make reference to at least two unrelated traditions (e.g., early Chinese and early European) or to prior research on universals that has itself treated at least two unrelated traditions. 

There is no fee to register for the conference. However, since lunch will be provided, we are asking that participants register, after registration opens in early 2019 (and before 1 May 2019). 

Please note: Since the on-campus hotel will be closed at the time of the workshop, participants who plan to stay overnight will have to take a hotel room at some distance from the university and should plan on having their own transportation between the hotel and campus, since public transportation and taxi service are both very limited in the area