"Literary [Non-]Fiction in Times of Crisis"

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

“Literary [Non-]Fiction in Times of Crisis”, 13th May to the 15th May 2021

CRISIS: “a time of great danger, difficulty, or confusion when problems must be solved or important decisions must be made” (OED)

The fall of the Berlin Wall; refugee movements across Europe; Brexit; political populism; divided societies in Europe and USA; or the pandemic of Covid-19 – it is almost unlikely to formulate a complete list of crises that have emerged in recent times. The notion of crisis, however, is by no means confined to the socio-political realm and its grand narratives/grand challenges. Personal, religious and identity crises seem idiosyncratic in essence, but are in reality experiences shared collectively by different cultures and generations. The idea that crises are not only destructive or arresting, but rather necessary for progress and/or self-development is communicated not only by means of historical accounts or political analyses, but also via personal life reviews as well as fictional, literary works. Literary [non-]fiction is, after all, the most multi-faceted medium of communication. Many times the individual’s need for literary (self-)expression is driven by the need to make sense of the surrounding reality [also by highlighting different versions of reality] and contextualize one’s personal, socio-political or environmental crisis. Facing a political/cultural/social/religious predicament, authors are often driven by an imperative to voice their disagreement over transgressions/half-truths/ lies/manipulations, which eventually makes one unable to turn away from the presumed obligation to right a wrong. This is why Nadine Gordimer once said that writing about ‘public policies’ [sensu largo], particularly if their impact on the social fabric is negative, corresponds to writing about morality.

Department of English Literature and Literary Linguistics is pleased to announce its conference, “Literary [Non-]Fiction in Times of Crisis”, to be held online at Adam Mickiewicz University from the 13th May to the 15th May 2021. The conference’s objective is to explore both writerly and non-writerly involvement, analyses and suggestions regarding descriptions of and possible solutions to the ills of a given society/community/individual and collective mindsets. Our intention is to set up an interdisciplinary dialogic space for academics interested in restoring the strength of referentiality in [non-]fiction writing, with the overall aim to make textual reality relevant again. Our invitation is addressed to researchers from various fields of scholarly investigation, including literary studies, culture studies, film studies, identity studies and other interdisciplinary studies.

Suggested topics include but are not restricted to:

SECTION I Socio-Political crisis in texts

Session Chairs: prof. dr hab. Liliana Sikorska [sliliana@amu.edu.pl] and prof. UAM dr hab. Ryszard Bartnik [rbartnik@amu.edu.pl]

* Black Lives Matter

* Wars [culture wars/terrorist extremism]

* Arab Spring [and other ‘revolutions’]

* Minority and human rights

* Brexit

* Political transitions of divided societies

SECTION II Psychological crisis in texts

Session Chairs: dr Katarzyna Bronk-Bacon [kbronkk@amu.edu.pl] and prof. UAM dr hab. Dominika Buchowska-Greaves [drusz@amu.edu.pl]

* Narration and representation of personal or collective trauma

* Crisis of identity and belonging

* Rites of passage in human life [motherhood/fatherhood; middle age/old age, crisis of faith]

* Sexual/gender assault/abuse/asymmetry

SECTION III Environmental crisis in texts [Ecocriticism]

Session Chairs: dr Jeremy Pomeroy [jerpom@amu.edu.pl] and dr Jacek Olesiejko [olesiejk@amu.edu.pl]

* The crisis of Anthropocene

* Climate change

* Pan- and epidemics

SECTION IV ‘Institutional’ crisis in texts

Session Chairs: dr Marta Frątczak-Dąbrowska [mfratczak@amu.edu.pl] and dr Joanna Jarząb-Napierała [joanna.jarzab@amu.edu.pl]

* Crisis of democracy

* Crisis of neoliberalism

* The [re]birth of populism

* Crisis of the state [Truth/Trust/Rule of law]

Authors are encouraged to prepare 20 minute presentations in English. Abstracts of around 300-500 words should be submitted to crisisandliterature2021@amu.edu.pl by the 28th February 2021 [in the event of any technical problems use the alternative email address crisisrb@amu.edu.pl]. In addition, we would like to inform about that the Department of English Literature and Literary Linguistics is planning to launch, presumably in 2022, a postconference publication, in cooperation with Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM. The full-length papers to be considered for this volume shall be peer-reviewed and must not be under consideration by any other journal or publication.