Reading Across Cultures: New Comparative Approaches in a Globalized World, September 21-23, 2014, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

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Postgraduate Forum “Postcolonial Narrations”

The second conference of the postgraduate forum "Postcolonial Narrations" focuses on comparative approaches to postcolonial anglophone literatures and cultures in an era of globalization. How can comparative approaches enrich our reading practices and add to our understanding of postcolonial cultural production? How do comparative trends and research practices emerging in other disciplines impact postcolonial studies (which is itself a comparative approach)?

PhD students and Postdocs who work in the fields of anglophone literatures and cultures, postcolonial studies and cultural studies are invited to present research that employs, discusses or problematizes transcultural, transnational or transregional frameworks. The conference aims to provide a platform for exchanging ideas, presenting research, and constructively discussing current projects with other young scholars in the fields. The conference will take place at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, September 21-23, 2014.

More than ten years have passed since Gayatri Spivak pronounced the discipline of Comparative Literature – in its "old" Eurocentric practice – dead and demanded the field's re-orientation (Death of a Discipline, 2003). The last decade has seen a strong interest in rethinking comparative approaches in order to adjust to the realities of a globalized world. Considerations on the methodical value of comparison for understanding literatures in a globalized world have been central for scholars such as David Damrosch (What is World Literature, 2003), Franco Moretti ("Conjectures on World Literature," 2000), and Emily Apter (The Translation Zone, 2005). Comparative literature has drawn on insights from translation studies, area studies, cultural studies, and cultural anthropology in order to theorize a global, but unequal field of "world literature". Similar considerations have accompanied the development of transnational and transcultural approaches to the study of fields like global diasporas, memory cultures, and indigenous societies and cultures.
Engaging with these new approaches also invites us to reflect on the ways in which our own cultural, economic, or linguistic position shapes our research frameworks. For instance, how can scholarship focussing on anglophone cultural production do justice to the multilingual context of postcolonial literatures and cultures? Do comparative approaches run the risk of obscuring the specificities of location and history? A dialogue with other disciplines may also help us to deal with the impact of a globalized cultural industry on the publication, translation and critical reception of texts.

The Postcolonial Narrations Conference 2014 will examine the relevance, advantages and problems of transnational, transregional and transcultural frameworks of comparison for the study of contemporary literature, culture and politics. Papers discussing such approaches on a theoretical or methodological basis and papers that put them into practice are equally welcome. We also encourage papers that use comparative angles to put anglophone postcolonial literature and culture into dialogue with cultural production in other languages. Some of the key issues guiding our discussion might be:

- New reading practices for postcolonial studies
- Narrating postcoloniality in a globalized world
- Anglophone literature and culture in multilingual contexts
- Postcolonial cultural production in a globalized cultural industry
- Literature in the context of new forms of communication
- Comparison in a time of destabilized cultural boundaries
- Postcolonial theories of translation
- Local and historical specificities in comparison
- Problematizing the positionality of the observer
- Destabilizing binary opposites in comparative frameworks

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and contributions do not have to be limited to these topics. We welcome contributions from graduate students and Postdocs interested in transcultural, transregional, or transnational approaches to the following topics:

- Anglophone Literatures and Cultures
- Comparative Literature and Theories of World Literature
- Postcolonial Studies
- Indigenous Studies
- Visual and Material Cultures and Cultural Practices
- Memory Studies
- Translation and Publishing

If you are interested in contributing, please send an abstract (200 words) for a 20 minute presentation to postcolonial.narrations[at] no later than June 22, 2014. We'd be happy if you could include a short biographical note and the topic of your current project.

More information:

Doris Hardt, Karsten Levihn-Kutzler, Anne Löber, Magdalena Pfalzgraf

Landmail correspondence:
Postgraduate Forum "Postcolonial Narrations"
c/o Abteilung Neue Englischsprachige Literaturen und Kulturen
Institut für England- und Amerikastudien
Grüneburgplatz 1
D-60629 Frankfurt am Main