"Uses of Literature" Final Conference

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Uses of Literature, University of Southern Denmark
contact email: 


November 3-5 2021


The “Uses of Literature” research group at the University of Southern Denmark will hold an on-line conference on November 3-5 2021 to mark the conclusion of the Niels Bohr Professorship held by Rita Felski. Confirmed keynote speakers include Rita Charon (Columbia), Sean Latham (Tulsa), Heather Love (University of Pennsylvania), and Toril Moi (Duke). We welcome twenty-minute papers that speak to the group’s main research interests.


How does “attachment” speak to a growing interest in more affirmative approaches in criticism? What about negative or ambivalent attachments? What are the implications of attachment for method? How is attachment understood in differing disciplines and how relevant are such ideas to literary studies? How is work in feminist and queer studies rethinking attachment?  And what about related ideas of attunement, mood, and atmosphere?

 New Sociologies of Literature

What are the most promising attempts to connect literary studies and the social sciences? Beyond Bourdieusian sociology and actor-network-theory, what other methods are in play? What is the import of the “new empiricism”? Should claims for the politics of literature pay more heed to sociology? How do social scientists use literature and how might such uses be questioned or expanded?

 Rethinking Class

How is literary criticism limited by its lack of attention to class? What is the significance of recent attempts, in literature and film, to capture experiences of precarity?  How is literature responding to the economic, cultural, and psychological conditions that are associated with neoliberalism?  Other topics of interest to the group include class and migration and class and the welfare state.

 Literature and Medicine

How does literature speak to the needs of medical professionals or their patients? What are the most important current debates in the field of narrative medicine? If narrative medicine draws on the insights of literary studies, can literary scholars also learn from narrative medicine? We are especially interested in papers on literature and ageing, literature and dementia, and discussions of the theory and practice of reading workshops for patients and medical professionals.

 Teaching Literature

How and why do we teach literature in higher education? Have our rationales and ways of teaching changed and in what ways? It’s long been argued that teaching literature contributes to the formation of empathic and/or critical citizens. Does this “not for profit” argument still stand? Are there other possible “uses” of literature in higher education in the twenty-first century?  What kind of pedagogies might they involve?


If you’d like to submit a paper for consideration, please send a 300 word abstract and a short cv (3 page maximum) to Pernille Hasselsteen at perha@sdu.dk by May 1, 2021.