CFP: The Proximity of Cultures in Literature


Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENES) Graduate Conference

The University of British Columbia, Vancouver

April 8, 2017

The Proximity of Cultures in Literature

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Asma Sayed, MacEwan University, Edmonton

The Department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies at the University of British Columbia is an avid advocate of interdisciplinary and transcultural approaches providing a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness of European societies. We invite papers for the conference to share new research on proximity, i.e., the closeness and relationship of cultures and their different aspects in literature. Particularly, the aspects of the transformation and change of cultural practices and of identities, and the showcasing of linguistic and psychological experiences when multiple languages meet are of focal interest. i.e., how are interactions of cultures translated in literature?


From this point of view, we invite papers discussing interdependencies (Norbert Elias), or the understanding of recognition (Charles Taylor). In the wake of post-colonialism, globalisation, and cultural translocation, what new forms of understanding have developed? How do literatures and research on literature change in an increasingly borderless global environment? How is a proximity of cultures achieved, manifested, tested or contested in the language of literary texts. Rethinking the ways in which we contextualize, teach, and interpret literatures and their competency facilitates their accessibility and relevance to a new generation of readers and will potentially spark public scholarship.

Awareness and discussion of this proximity, or interaction of, cultures within the text and context of literary works highlight their topicality in our everyday life as well as in contemporary cultural history. An example is migration literature from Germany – works written in a language other than the author’s cultural background or first language. Literature is no longer shaped by a single language that constitutes a way of thinking particular to that culture. Understanding language and languages affects our perception of cultures. Literature can grasp and criticize cultural and linguistic aspects through particular metaphors, foreign words, linguistic code- switching, and the representation of cultural histories along with their sometimes distinct, yet often unperceived influence on the present. Given a multicultural environment, such literature also facilitates the discussion of various cultural historical perspectives in the classroom. These perspectives can complement existing interpretations of cultural memories such as those found in diaspora literature.


Proposals & Structure of Conference

We will be accepting abstracts of 300 words for 15-20 minutes research papers that address the proximity of cultures within literary works. Talks will be grouped into thematic panels and be followed by time for questions and discussion. We welcome proposals from scholars working on transnational and intercultural literature and language studies, but will give preference to graduate and postgraduate students. Submit abstracts to by December 6th, 2016.


• transnational, intercultural and migration literatures from Germany, Canada and elsewhere

• cultural-philosophical thought in literature

• First Nations literatures

• cultural studies and literary theory

• biculturalism in literature

• intercultural versus transcultural &/or versus multicultural perspectives

• cultural identities 

• German Kultur versus culture

• cultural techniques

• cultural studies versus Kulturwissenschaften

• cultural metaphors

• cultural versus linguistic hybridity, multilingualism

• cultural perspectives in fantasy literature 

• cultural/multicultural recognition

• cultural history in fiction 

• tolerance, cultural interdependencies and differences, language barriers

• nostalgia and literary medium

• cultural and linguistic diversity

• translation and cultural translation