ENCLS/REELC 6th Biennial Congress: "Longing and Belonging"

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European Network for Comparative Literature and Comparative Literature Association of Ireland
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The congress will take place in two places (2 days each) Dublin City University and National University of Ireland, Galway
Dates: 24-28 August 2015

The notion of belonging has often been examined from the perspective of location and of the politics of relations to space and culture. Literary studies have helped map out and interrogate the representations of topographical belonging, creating new possibilities for interpreting individual and collective images. Politics of relations also explore the notion of becoming, as attached to belonging, and the conditions out of which actions are produced, experience is built and beliefs emerge. Artists and characters may adhere or resist systems pertaining to spatially, historically or culturally defined groups, bringing political considerations to the fore, which can in turn entail stylistic innovation involving transmutation or hybridization of classical approaches.
Adaptation and rewriting (prose, film, graphic novels) can be the vehicles of such action. While providing new readings of iconic texts, they are intrinsic elements of a cultural heritage which actualises traditional ideas and representations. This is particularly the case with the treatment of fairy tales whose new versions have been developing, whether addressed to children or to adults, in graphic novels, films, stage performances, etc. These transformations involve moving the location of the original plot and characters to new contexts (realistic, utopian, dystopian or digital, for example) thus challenging the social or cultural baggage transmitted by canonical texts over time. They also apply to musical traditions in which the evocation of ancestral places is of essential importance regarding ideological and aesthetic criteria. Adaptation and rewriting can indeed operate through songs (operatic or popular), which skilfully describe places, provoking strong feelings of nostalgia in their listeners, especially if the singers, lyrics or musical instruments present a certain significance for the audience, resonating with memories and emotions attached to specific spaces.
Identities are constructed and contested in a wide variety of contexts. Distinctions between identities, whether cultural or gendered, relate to a sense of belonging to a powerful centre vs an opposite periphery or minority. These distinctions can either strengthen or undermine the perceptions of individuals and groups (their auto- and hetero-images). Hierarchical barriers can also be constructed between affiliations and with regard to the value of certain forms of knowledge. Authors and artists have often disrupted claims of cultural or national superiority when grounded in political, racial or geographical specificity. Identities can be refined or transformed across time and space by both global and local events. However, as different literatures have revealed, after a sense of liberation from monolithic political systems, nostalgia can occasionally set in, ideologies having shaped conceptions of self and community. Longing for an idealised past can prove as painful as longing for a promised land, and artists may find themselves in sublimated exilic states while seeking either a new home and new identity or a way to come home to a former identity.
The notions of longing and belonging therefore lend themselves to a comparative exploration through different disciplines, such as: Geocriticism, Diaspora Studies, Migration Studies, Imagology, Myth- and Folklore criticism, (Post-) Colonial Studies; Sexuality Studies, Women's Studies, Gender Studies, Masculinity Studies; Ekphrasis, Adaptation Studies, Intermedial Studies, Reception and Reader-response Theory, Children Literature; Literature and Anthropology, Literature and Science, Literature and Psychology, Literature and Philosophy, Ethics in/and Literature.

All subjects related to the main theme of the congress are welcome. For instance, avenues of investigation may include the following:
• What fields belong to Comparative Literature or does Comparative Literature belong to?
• Belonging to and/or rejection of schools of thought: Comparative Literature as independent practice
• Expressions and manifestations of longing and belonging, and of longing to belong
• Places of (be)longing (fantasy, dream, imagination, virtuality, heterotopia, homeland, cradle, home, club…)
• Belonging to a nation, group (patriotism, ethnicity, religion, school, subscription, allegiance…)
• Limits imposed or labels attached to individuals and groups
• Forced belonging (subjugation, arranged marriages, colonization, slavery…)
• Perceptions/images/stereotypes of a place, nation, group
• Belonging as catharsis
• Longing for the other/longing for the self
• Belonging to a gender or sexual identity / denegation of same
• Perceptions/stereotypes of gender or sexual identity
• Belonging to a specific art form/ subversion of same
• Text (be)longing to/for image and vice versa
• Denunciation of belonging to a group (religious, political…) or to a community (including an interpretive community)
• Exile, immigration, emigration and longing
• Possible worlds, digital worlds, and virtual escapism
• Past allegiance (nostalgia, anthropology, mythology, rejection of tradition)
• Longing for inclusion/refusal to integrate
• Being unable to belong/no longer wanting to belong
• Dreaming of belonging/reality and belonging
• Reception as the expression of a desire or rejection.

We welcome proposals for individual papers and for thematic panels. Please send your 300-word proposals and short biographies to Brigitte Le Juez: Brigitte.lejuez@dcu.ie and Hans-Walter Schmidt-Hannisa: h.schmidthannisa@nuigalway.ie by October 1st, 2014.
The languages of the congress will be English, French and Irish. However, poster sessions may be organised in any European language.

The congress takes place on the East and West coasts of Ireland. Cultural visits and events will be organised in and between Dublin and Galway.