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CFP: Sessional Proposal – Congress 2020

CFP: CCLA/ACLC Congress 2020 – Bridging Divides and Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism via Comparative Literature – May 31-June 2, University of Western Ontario

Session Proposal – Post-Magical Realist Worlds: Contemporary Postcolonial Storytelling Modes, Critiques, and Perspectives

Born in the mid-twentieth century in Latin America, magical realism quickly became “the literary language of the emergent post-colonial world” (Bhabha 7). It developed as a means of capturing and representing the experience of living in worlds marked by both colonial conquest and anticolonial resistance, and in which “improbable juxtapositions and marvelous mixtures” (Zamora and Faris 76) exist side by side. Since then, magical realism has circulated widely, picked up by authors in formerly colonized nations around the world, and adapted to their own, local, representational needs. Today, authors and critics even speak of modes like Aboriginal realism and decolonial realism, which draw on certain conventions of magical realism but separate themselves from the Eurocentric binary logics of “magic” and “realism” that it upholds.

This session seeks to explore multiple modes of representing, mediating, or distorting the postcolonial worlds that magical realism was initially developed to capture. We are particularly interested in post-magical realist modes of representation in contemporary media, literature, cinema, and the arts, as well as popular culture. The question of what has come after magical realism is central to this conversation. We ask: What representational modes emerge as a response to the recognition of Eurocentric conceptual binaries that “magical realism” reifies? Is magical realism, as Bhabha, Slemon, and many others have argued, a “global” postcolonial phenomenon, or a culturally-specific, regionally-grounded mode of artistic expression? What is the role of magical realism in cultural politics? Is it merely a stereotype perpetuated by the global market, or a useful and vibrant theoretical and artistic tool for engaging contemporary postcolonial realities? 

Topics for this session may include:

  • magic(al) realisms (Flores; Roh)
  • the marvellous real (Carpentier)
  • African and African American magical realism (Cooper; Quayson)
  • Indigenous/Aboriginal realisms (Ravenscroft; Maufort)
  • Latin American authors, artists, and filmmakers’ rejections of and engagements with magical realist heritage (McOndo or the Crack literary groups)
  • animistic realisms (Garuba; Quayson)
  • decolonial/anticolonial realisms (Ciccariello-Maher)
  • postcolonial realisms (Bjerk)
  • artistic or theoretical interventions which disrupt the cultural traditions of European realism married to the tropes naturalism or scientism
  • interpretations of magical realism as an international commodity or a particular kind of world literature and cinema 
  • magical realisms in/as popular culture

Please submit 250-300 word abstracts for 20-minute presentations as Word documents to the Session Chairs, Dr. Justyna Poray-Wybranowska ( and Dr. Agata Mergler ( by November 24, 2019.

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