Waiting for Utopia: Ireland and the Utopian Impulse, Nov. 20-21, 2015 (Submission deadline: Jun 1, 2015)
However one chooses to look at it, Utopia has a natural inclination towards unrealizable representations. If therefore "Utopia is meta-Utopia" (Robert Nozick), Ireland and Irish culture might still seem to many to occupy the unrepresentable, to be that primary u-topos, a blank spot that successive conjurors of nations have struggled to sell to their own followers, let alone to the rest of the world... ("Of my nation? What ish my Nation? …Who talks of my Nation?" Henry V). And however much the Utopian impulse might seem bound up with time, far better still is to tie it in with space, and see Ireland as another place, a contained, insular, sealed space in which desire stalks its own shadow, in which the colonial Other reconfigures the spaces of history with the myths of a wilder kind ("England will never be civilized till she has added Utopia to her dominions … there is more than one of her colonies that she might with advantage surrender for so fair a land", Oscar Wilde).
Utopia has an uncanny habit of lurking in the details ("La marque de l'Utopie, c'est le quotidien", Roland Barthes) and the Utopian desire might as soon spring out from the present as drag you along into the future as it should have been. It is the carnavalesque upheaval of a modest proposal, it is the nomadic insistence of settlement, where the Irishness of Ireland is easier and more desirable out of Ireland's bounds.
For such is the paralysis of the unrealizable that "Utopias have something to do with failure" (Fredric Jameson). Has the Utopian desire in Ireland settled for the blind spots of history, blocking out continued radical change for the comfort of local readjustments? Or can Ireland's continued Utopianism lead to new "archaeologies of the future" (Jameson) and to a new form of storytelling in which the symbolic pattern of history yields to new resources of hope?
Contributions are sought around the following possible themes:
- Utopianism and Irish politics, nation-building, governance, political theory
- Utopian experiments in Ireland
- Irish Utopianism and nomadism, travel writing, storytelling, orality
- Irish Utopianism and postcolonial studies
- Irish Utopianism and diasporas (emigration and immigration)
- Utopianism and Irish landscape (Pocock's 'Atlantic Archipelago', new urban spaces, Ireland and the EU)
- Irish fiction and the Utopian discourse
- Irish science fiction, futurism, speculative fiction, fantasy
- Irish culture and insularity
- Irish theatre and the Utopian stage
- New Irish Utopian spaces, social media, the media (art, film, music, blogs)
- Translating Utopianism (language and spatial interstices, bilingualism, diglossia, translation studies)