Recently, the European Union welcomed fifteen new member states. The accession of a number of Balkan states is impending. Turkey is waiting in the wings. Transatlantic relations to the USA are hotly debated, in politics as in culture. China and India awake as economic giants. Globalization is upon us. At the same time, two of the earliest signatories to the treaties eventually leading to the European Union reject a proposal for a European Constitution, and linguistic, religious, and ethnic dividing lines show even in some of Europe’s oldest nation states. What role do literature, and the study of literature, play in the constant re-negotiation and re-construction of cultural identities all this implies? How do literary texts, genres, and forms, thinking about them, teaching them, respond to and shape ongoing processes of European self-understanding in our era of globalization? The conference will seek to answer these questions by charting key developments in a number of fields its organizers see as crucial to the emergence of a European common literary “space”: Literature and cultural value systems, Literature and cultural memory, Literary History, Translation, the impact of the New Media and the Information Age on matters of Literature and Identity, and the impact of the Postcolonial. Emphasis will be not on looking back, but rather on pinpointing where a specific field is at right now, looking forward to probable developments, and drawing up a possible research agenda for literary studies in Europe.
Invited speakers should look upon their presentation not as a polished conference paper, but as a thought-provoking tour d’horizon in which they discuss the import of what they see as cutting-edge developments in their field on the relationship between literary studies and “the matter of Europe”.
Poster sessions are planned and time will be alloted to short oral contributions (selected from abstracts).