Literature under Constraint Conference

The Faculty of Letters of the University “Transilvania”, Brașov
L’Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie
AHRC Research: Literature under Constraint Network (LUC)

Call for papers for the 5th International Conference of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, 22-23 March 2019, Brașov

History is Dead, Long Live History!
Literature under Constraint in Eastern Europe after 1989
including the section
Francophone Literature in Eastern Europe after 1989

Following the collapse of communist regimes, the much-hailed victory of the “freedom of speech” over censorship proved insufficient for the “emancipation” of Eastern European literature. Developments in the literary field – in terms of institutions, aesthetics, poetics, and variations of the literary ethos – have since showed that literature was neither entirely “subjected” to the endless communist time loop, nor did it “blossom” immediately afterwards. Although free from political constraints, literature has been besieged by a weight of phenomenality which began to permanently affect its institutional forms, its relations with audience, as well as its internal rhythms and temporalities.
National literatures have questioned the canon and the value-systems that shape its formation, whereas literary criticism, influenced by the phenomenon of post-modernism, has seemed attached to its own criteria of evaluation, institutional judgements, and historiographic assessments.

Topics of enquiry include but are not limited to the following:
1. Has 1989 marked a radical evolution/ revolution in the literary institutions of the East, or has it been the starting point of a slower evolution, without a genuine breach, initiated all along the 1980s?
2. Aesthetically and ideologically speaking, is there a literary revival directly connected to the downfall of communism? Can parallels and comparisons between post-colonial and post-totalitarian literatures be critically relevant and generative?
3. How are national literary canons reassessed and rearranged? How is the historical dimension of literary texts reorganized, both in terms of the old ideological and political solidarities that we have come to denounce, and in those of its attendant aesthetics?
The reader of literature is immediately involved in a (hi)story that is still unfolding. While reading literature can be seen as a hobby or even a luxury (see Jacques Rancière’s analysis in Les Temps modernes, 2018), literary reading becomes more and more infrequent and is replaced by the immediacy of newspaper browsing and the soporific consumption of audio-visual media.
4. How does literature manage to “actualise” (2007) itself, in Yves Citton’s terms?
5. What are the effects of the deregulation of the literary market on book selling and on its public?
6. What narrative strategies and topics do writers choose to engage with in the new post-totalitarian “attention ecology” (Citton 2015)?
A slow-moving history has come to a halt and a lot of promises are piling up in a moment that some tend to name History with a capital “H”, so as to celebrate an “imagined” victory (see Bruno Latour’s diagnosis in We Have Never Been Modern, 1991), only to be (de)faced by unfulfilled expectations, by a “disavowal” (J-L Nancy, Absent Community, 1986 and passim) expressed through affect and partaking in a re-temporalization of literature.
7. Have we been witnessing an acceleration/ intensification of literary processes, in terms of mimesis, marketing and emotional expression?
8. Is there a new wave of “experientialism” which sees literature trying to model itself after faster and more direct visual art forms?

Participation fee: 50€, at the registration desk.
The organisers offer 4 participation grants for PhD candidates/MA students, in the amount of 300 euros each.
Communication languages are English and French and abstracts of maximum 250 words are to be sent to for French abstracts for English abstracts

Deadline for abstracts: February 25, 2019