Imagining inclusive communities in European culture / Imaginer des communautés inclusives dans la culture européenne / Immaginare comunità inclusive nella cultura europea

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
University of Rome "La Sapienza"


Imagining inclusive communities in European culture / Imaginer des communautés inclusives dans la culture européenne / Immaginare comunità inclusive nella cultura europea.


European Society of Comparative Literature/Société Européenne de Littérature Comparée (ESCL/SELC)

9th Congress/9ème Congrès

Rome, 6th-10th September 2021


Department of European, American and Intercultural Studies

Department of Letters and Modern Cultures

Sapienza University of Rome

The Chair of the scientific committee:

prof. Emilia Di Rocco and prof. Franca Sinopoli


20th-century criticism and theory have acquainted us with the ability of fictional narratives to build or strengthen the identity of nations and classes, often at the expense of other communities. Investigations of the ideological significance of fiction as a tool for social cohesion have insistently stressed its tendency to exclude, debase or misrepresent other groups. A question that has been posed less often is, however, how narrative works manage to build inclusive communities. This question seems of great relevance in relation to the modern period, especially to early modern cultural cosmopolitanism (the “republic of letters”), the universalism of the Enlightenment (with its focus on the nature of man), the construction of “imagined communities” in European nation-states, and the skepticism of nationalist ideologies that has marked significant strains of both modernist and post-modern narrative culture. In recent years, moreover, given the ethical and political issues raised by transnational migrations and globalization, the power of fiction as a tool to question or broaden community boundaries has become more and more significant. And it is likely that it will become all the more so in light of recent social and political developments, such as the resurgence of nationalism in the shape of “sovereignism” and protectionist policies, and the crisis of Europe, both as an idea and as a system of institutions.

The concept of inclusiveness is especially relevant today not only in terms of nation and class, but also of race and gender, while strategies of inclusiveness are being explored in various domains, including translation studies, and applied to all kinds of texts (see for example gender-inclusive Bible translations). The concept of crisis translation, widely investigated today, is also relevant in that it relates to how translation and translations, in periods and areas of political and humanitarian crises, mediate between peoples and individuals belonging to different cultural and linguistic communities.

The aim of this conference is to invite reflections on narrative as a tool for the creation of inclusive communities in European culture, with a focus on a broad range of media (literature, both fictional and non-fictional, including translated literature, films, TV series, graphic novels, videogames) and on all periods, from classical antiquity – in which the grounds for communal thinking were established – to the present day, marked by radical attempts to renegotiate communal identities. We invite, moreover, papers and panels on the part played by criticism, theory, and historiography in envisioning inclusive communities and on the role of translation and circulation of narrative works in Europe. We encourage both narratological readings that highlight the formal language of community-building and political and ideological investigations, comparative or focused on specific contexts.

All papers will be included in sessions with four presenters each, so plan to present on your topic for no more than 20 minutes, inclusive of any audio or visual materials.

Please submit 300-words abstracts together with a short biography, institutional affiliation (where relevant), and contact details by 30th September 2020 at and

Panel submissions are welcome. The deadline for complete panel proposals, including a short biography, institutional affiliation (where relevant), and contact details, is 15th September 2020. Proposals should be sent to and

Acceptance decisions will be notified by 15th January 2021.

Possible topics and areas include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Comparative literature, world literature and the identity of Europe
  • Fiction, national boundaries and European boundaries
  • Translation and community-making in Europe
  • Europe between the local and the global
  • Gender articulations
  • Gender-inclusive language
  • Gender-inclusive translation strategies
  • Crisis translation
  • Films and TV shows exploring physical and metaphorical boundaries
  • The Borders of Europe: the imperfect overlapping of geography, history and cultural heritage
  • The Post-Sovietic euroasiatic space: past inclusions and present exclusions
  • Ancient and modern traditions: Other perspectives from Caucasian regions and Central Asia
  • The role of empires in the European literary space
  • Colonial narratives and postcolonial counternarratives
  • Processes of racialization in Europe
  • Black Europe
  • Writing transnational migrations
  • Migration literature
  • Diaspora studies : New identities and new communities
  • Narratives of transitions
  • Cultural Genomics
  • Localism/s: Local communities (cities, towns, villages, neighborhoods) versus national and global
  • Reading groups (physical or virtual)
  • Fandom communities: groups of comics fans, science-fiction fans, horror fans, cosplayers, rock bands/stars fans, sport fans, etc.
  • Cultural representations of European communities (Imagology)

We invite submissions in all disciplines allied to Comparative Literature, including history, the history of art, philosophy, classics, theology, translation studies, Near Eastern studies, Asian studies, and others. Abstracts on all topics will be considered, though priority will be given to those which address our thematic strand.

In addition to parallel sessions on the conference topic, two discussion-based PhD/PostDoc workshops will be organised.