Body in Motion, Travelling Bodies in Anglophone Literature

deadline for submissions: 
January 25, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Paris 8, France
contact email: 

A one-day conference titled “Body in Motion, Travelling Bodies in Anglophone Literature” will take place at the University Paris 8, France on May 24, 2019.

Deadline for proposal submission: January 25, 2019 


From Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to contemporary works on migration and travel, for instance Caryl Phillips’sCrossing the River, travelling texts and bodies have been at the core of Anglophone Literature. Bodies transform themselves as they cross political, national or cultural boundaries, and so do texts centred on bodily experiences which circulate across national and transcultural borders in our globalized world. Moreover, the processes of colonization, decolonization and globalization which have shaped the English-speaking world for centuries have certainly redefined ways of representing and writing the body, more particularly bodies migrating and travelling through real and imagined boundaries across time. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the importance of the moving body was visible in British travel writing and “colonial writing”. Chronicles, diaries, reports on expeditions have indeed explored the question of travelling bodies. In an article entitled “An Introduction: Travel and Body” (2005), Marguerite Helmers and Tilar J. Mazzeo recall that “the implied presence of the body has been one of the ways in which travel writers guaranteed the authenticity of their accounts” (267). Charles Forsdick’s Routledge Companion to Travel Writing (2016) reiterates the recurring presence of the body within the genre of travel writing. Works on the Middle Passage, the Partition of India or the Windrush generation have also drawn on this articulation to depict traumatised, mutilated bodies in motion, and some even made “docile” (Foucault). Postcolonial as well as migration writings (See for instance Travelling Towards Home: Mobilities and Homemaking, eds. N. Frost & T. Selwyn, 2018) too have focused on bodies which can be made dis-abled, invisible and metamorphosed due to acculturation and dislocation. Such writings suggest that the body has the ability to narrate untold, silent and non-representable socio-historical experiences of travelling. The moving body can also become a potential testimony of experiences of leaving, border-crossing and re-settling. It may also serve as agency of resistance, transgression and identity re-construction while embodying hopes of liberation and empowerment in the host country. 

Earlier works such as Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes (1992) as well as more recent references such asCorporeality and Culture: Bodies in Movement (K. Sellberg, L. Wanggren, 2015) have shown a growing interest in this burgeoning field of research. Besides, the study of this “corporeal turn” (Maxime Sheets-Johnstone) has also led to the emergence of new discourses in Trauma Studies along with Feminist Studies, LGTBQ Studies (Cotten 2012), or studies in “medical tourism” (Botterill, Pennings, Mainil, 2013) dealing with the circulation of corpses, body parts and even organ transplantations (See for instance, Bodily Exchanges, Bioethics and Border Crossing: Perspectives on Giving, Selling and Sharing Bodies, eds. Erik Malmqvist and Kristin Zeiler, 2016). However, there is a lack of studies on this intersection in Anglophone Literature despite the fact that circulation of people has been greater than ever and is deeply entwined with issues of gender, power, race, etc.

This one-day conference will focus on how the narration of mobile bodies questions social identities anddiscourses on sexuality, nationality, race, terrorism, etc., and produces new subjectivities. How are body circulations depicted and performed in writings from the English-speaking world? Are there specific modalities of writing about mobile bodies in the Anglophone context? How do mobile bodies possibly transform travel writing and migrant fiction written in English? How does such writing transform, or at least impact, the body and its cultural representations? How does modernity affect representations of the body in migration literature and in refugee literature? 

This conference will be a space of discussion for scholars working at the intersection of literary, Mobility and Body Studies in the English-speaking world. We are interested in papers which draw connections between Anglophone literature and moving/travelling bodies. Papers which depict cross-cultural encounters by chronicling the movement of bodies across geographical areas and historical periods are also welcome. This conference is also open to presentations on ongoing projects focusing on these themes.

Suggested topics might include but are not limited to: 

Literary representations of travelling bodies;

Moving bodies and the production of new subjectivities;

Mobile body/ -ies and globalization; transnational bodies;

Mobile bodies in colonial and postcolonial fiction;

Technologies of mobility and the body in motion;

Time, space and the body;

Race, gender, class and bodies in movement;

Travelling or moving bodies in the digital era (video games, etc.)


Papers may be presented either in English or French. 

Abstracts (250-300 words) along with a short bio-bibliographical notice should be sent to organisers: Jaine Chemmachery ( and Bhawana Jain ( by January 25th, 2019.