Hotel Cosmopolitan (ACLA Chicago Seminar—March 16th-19th)

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Ethan King and Robert Brazeau/ American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

This panel brings together diverse readings of the hotel as a peculiarly evocative transfer point in narratives of modernity and postmodernity. It examines the uncanny power of the hotel to symbolize many of the key attributes of modern and contemporary writing, cinema, art, and, indeed, subjectivity: freedom, mobility, anonymity, alienation, limitless self-recreation (to name a few). The panel hopes to enlarge our understanding of the material and figural role of the hotel in the formation of modernist and contemporary aesthetics and society, as well as to offer up a comparativist critical reflection on the ways in which hotel life and culture, which rise to prominence in the many literatures of modernism, continue to linger into, and help to structure, narratives of contemporary being and the social forms that both enable and manifest it. Ultimately, this seminar addresses itself to the question of how belonging is figured as fraught, complex, enabled, or delimited in the modernist and contemporary art and culture of hotel life.


Potential topics of interest might include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

Narratives of migrancy, circulation, alienation: the hotel as node in a network of meaning and being. 

The body politic: feminist and gender perspectives on hotel life and living.

Tourism as/and cultural consumption: possession and dispossession in hotel narratives. 

The mint on the pillow: hospitality and its obverse in the hotel. 

Lingering in and after empire: the imperial hotel and the malaise of non-belonging.

Globetrotting and globalization: the role of the hotel in the fictions, art, and life of late capital.

Worker’s rights and wages: the disaster of hotel labor.

Shared quarters: collective living and the commons in hotels, motels, inns, and hostels.

Out and about: the hotel as queer/trans space.

Comparative and translated spaces: the hotel across diverse literatures or genres.

Platform accommodations: hospitality and housing in the age of Airbnb.


Please submit proposals of 250-300 words through the ACLA conference portal (rather than directly to the seminar organizers). Please send any questions or queries to the seminar organizers: Rob Brazeau ( and/or Ethan King (