9th AISCLI Online Conference Rende, Cosenza (Italy), 17-18 February 2022 CALL FOR PAPERS Acting out and thinking ahead: Art/Activism, Literary ProVocations and PerFORMativity in Literatures and Cultures in English

deadline for submissions: 
January 6, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

Acting out and thinking ahead:

Art/Activism, Literary ProVocations and PerFORMativity

in Literatures and Cultures in English



According to the Macmillan English Dictionary, to act out means (a) to show the events that happened in a situation by doing them again or by doing the same things as the people involved; (b) to express one’s thoughts or feelings through one’s words or behaviour; (c) to do something that one has planned or had previously only thought of doing. All definitions entail the concept of performativity, i.e. language as social action with the power to affect reality (Foellmer, Lünenborg and Raetzsch 2017; Hildebrandt et al. 2019; Pennycook 2000), which is tightly related to the scope of activism as well. Indeed, it is through performance and language that protest and resistance are mostly carried out.

Activism has a long-standing tradition in the humanities and has often informed both cultural production (Serafini 2018; Tilche forthcoming; Zabala 2017) and scholarly theoretical thinking (Morris and Hjort 2012). Postcolonial studies as a discipline developed out of a need not only for epistemological but also social change and has always been socially engaged (Kim 2021; Sethi 2011; Young 1999). The decolonial turn in postcolonial studies can be considered as one of the most recent expressions of that need, and the shift from a post- to a decolonial perspective has often benefited from (scholarly) activism (Mignolo and Walsh 2018; Vallorani 2016). Academia itself has recently started to question its Eurocentric ontological foundations (Mbembe 2016; Rodríguez 2018), looking for new paradigms to narrate and negotiate the complexity of the world inside and outside its boundaries.

Over the last decade, transnational phenomena like world-wide migration, climate change and the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, together with social and cultural movements like Fridays for Future, Black Lives Matter and Me Too—to mention but a few—have sparked public debate globally (Anandhi and Kapadia 2017; Dawson 2020; Gundimeda 2017) and nurtured the creativity of writers and artists who have explored, represented and questioned them in what can be seen as forms of intellectual engagement and literary provocation (Benedetti 2021; Carlson and Berglund 2021; Dauda and Falola 2021; Egya 2020; Ghosh 2016; Hargreaves 2017; Oboe 2019; Streeby 2018; Van Klinken 2020).

The conference aims to draw an updated map of such a rich and multifaceted production and to investigate how activism contributes to cultural change by adapting to new media (Alperstein 2021; Gerbaudo 2012; Treré 2020) and reshaping new literary and artistic genres—suffice it to mention the increasing popularity of hashtags in naming and legitimising social movements online or the emergence of digital literature. In this scenario, also activist translation plays a fundamental role in connecting and empowering transnational movements, managing conflict, contesting existing forms of discrimination and injustice, and ultimately producing social transformation (Baker 2006; Gould and Tahmasebian 2020; Tymoczko 2010; Vallorani 2021).

Going back to the definitions above, the conference wishes to explore and analyse works by writers and artists who “act out” and “think ahead”, not only by questioning the past and challenging the present, but also by envisaging and anticipating a better and more just future, creating a performative counter-discourse that relies first and foremost on the power of language.


We welcome proposals pertaining but not limited to:

-       Activist literature and literary provocations

-       Textual and generic hybridisations

-       Spoken word poetry and performativity

-       Digital/Electronic literature

-       Scholarly activism

-       Decolonising academia

-       Artivism, performance and resistance

-       The cancel culture debate

-       Postcolonial translation and activism

-       Publishing policies as activism

-       Digital and cyber-activism

-       Globalisation and transnational activism;

-       Online activist and/or author communities;

-       Transnational activism and migration.


Confirmed keynote speakers:

Bronwyn Carlson, Macquarie University, Sydney (Australia)

Annalisa Oboe, University of Padua

Nicoletta Vallorani, University of Milan


Guest artists:

Danielle SeeWalker (Lakota artist and writer) & Carlotta Cardana (photographer)


Proposal submission:

Please send your proposal to info@aiscli.it by January 6, 2022. Proposals must include title, 250-word abstract, institutional affiliation and contact information. Acceptance will be notified by January 16, 2022. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the conference will be held online. There are no conference fees. In order to present a paper, speakers must be full members of AISCLI. Information about membership fees and procedures are available online at http://www.aiscli.it/iscrizioni/.


Conference convenors:

Lorena Carbonara, Mirko Casagranda, University of Calabria


Scientific committee:

Esterino Adami, Lorena Carbonara, Mirko Casagranda, Carmelina Concilio, Marina De Chiara, Eleonora Federici, Serena Guarracino, Marilena Parlati.