This seminar examines the varied presence of Asian-Indigenous relations and their literary, cinematic, artistic, and cultural representations across history and societies. Asian-Indigenous relations are distinct from the minority-versus-majority opposition and illustrate a unique set of interactions at the margins. The entangled histories reveal cultural connections and growing possibilities of alliance and solidarity in the struggle for decolonization and anti-racism. Meanwhile, the shifting positions of the two communities alert us to their asymmetrical power relationship in an uneven social-political field.
The seminar aims to foster cross-cultural dialogues between Asian studies and Indigenous studies. We welcome papers on all aspects related to Asian-Indigenous relations and seek to address questions that include, but are not limited to: How are the relations between Asian immigrants and Indigenous peoples in different countries from the 18th century to the present? How did restrictive policies and legislations toward Asians and Indigenous peoples impact interracial intimacies? What are the enduring and emerging challenges that the two communities find themselves facing? How are legacies of Asian-Indigenous history passed on through family heritage, cultural practices, and mixed identity? How are Asian-Indigenous relations represented in literature, film, art, and media? With focus on Asian-Indigenous relations, this seminar also invites papers on the general topic of diasporic and Indigenous crossings.
Ideal time length of the paper and/or presentation is 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of questions, comments, observations and suggestions; discussion is subject to availability of time and interested discussants.
Analyzing national framing in world literary studies looms large as there has been a pushback against globalization as homogenization in the past few years. The national returns with a renewed force in our contemporary political world under the guise of new dictatorships arising, namely, in the case of Turkey or now with Afghanistan. In this context, the reification of boundaries necessitates a re-examination of national literature, and in our view, reading world literature through discussing the circulation and reception of the central literature in the periphery and vice versa is one such way. We welcome original papers that contribute to the theoretical and methodological discussion of the concept of world literature, as well as analyses and comparative interpretations of literary works that tackle this reciprocity.
Daniel Martini and Aili Pettersson Peeker
Today, experiments about how humans think usually take place in a lab, allowing researchers to locate thought processes in the brain with unprecedented precision. However, writers have experimented with thinking for much longer. For instance, Virginia Woolf argued in her essay “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid" (1940) that a new form of (women's) writing can cause a shift in how British men think and bring about peace. Between the Acts (1941) demonstrates how tone, rhythm, and diction can produce different cognitive registers—Elizabethan, Enlightenment, and Victorian—thus connecting form and cognition. Just as for Woolf, the relationship between cognition and form is intimately connected to questions of gender, and of race, for Toni Morrison. For example, she explained that in order to render the “stereotypically male narrative” of Song of Solomon (1977), she had to pause her experimentation with sequence and time from earlier novels. But why does a “male narrative” require a different form?
This panel seeks to explore if literary experiments with form can also experiment with how we think. Our question draws on existing research in neurocognitive science, neuroaesthetics, cognitive narratology, and 4E cognition that suggests that thought can be driven by formal properties of writing. For example, entrainment through rhythm or repetition (the “when”) can determine selective perception and cognition (the “what”). Topics could include mnemonics; deixis; affordance; narrative structure; and other formal elements that might influence emotions, empathy, and attention. We also invite papers that examine the relationship between script and cognition, such as the capacity of language to communicate through both phonological and lexical routes, as well as issues of translation. We invite a broad range of interdisciplinary papers from any period, genre, and language that speak to how form might experiment with thought.
In the last decades, cities around the world have experienced unprecendented economic, political, social, and spatial transformations. As these changes bring new challenges for the ways in which we categorize the boundaries of the urban and the definitions of the city, urban theorists have been condering the possibilities of the twenty first century bringing in post-urban stage. This seminar invites abstracts which reflect on this notion of the post-urban, the spatial, political and socio-cultural transformations that this brings about around the world, as well as its representation in literature and in cinema from interdisciplinary perspectives.
When Hayao Miyazaki, the world-famous founder of Studio Ghibli, received the Golden Lion award for life achievement in 2005, he was lauded as one of the greatest directors in Japanese cinema for blending “romanticism and humanism with a feeling of the epic.” Although traditional hand-drawn animation remains the mainstay of his media, Miyazaki, like a film auteur, conceives or adapts the story ideas, sketches storyboards, and leads a team to actualize his dreams. Over his decades-long career, Miyazaki has created many iconic characters and strong female leads like Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service), San (Princess Mononoke), No Face and Chihiro (Spirited Away) and Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle). Miyazaki raises the bar for animation films with his realistic portrait of fictional characters and espouses in his work his philosophical and environmental beliefs. His East-West aesthetics have become a distinct force in the West, especially since 1996, after Disney became the main distributor of Studio Ghibli.
This seminar welcomes submissions that explore themes like humanism, feminism, spiritualism, and environmentalism in Miyazaki’s work, emphasize his unique East-West aesthetics, position him as a film auteur or adapter, examine the legacy of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in Japanese cinema, film studies and cultural studies, or investigate the impact of Studio Ghibli in Hollywood in light of industry studies.
The term ‘New Woman’ was coined by Irish feminist writer Sarah Grand in 1893. How was the New Woman comparatively constructed in the East and West? How did each new alternative version influence the next, as divergent versions travelled across cultures in this reciprocal transnational exchange of radical ideals between East and West? Did imbricating themes of gender, postcolonialism, language and modernism all collide globally to form the New Woman? And what are the stakes for modern audiences?
Nationalist revolutions frequently open a liminal space for female subjectivity, yet these New Women subjectivities were often subject to, and circumscribed by, the problematising interplay of masculinist rhetoric and nationalism, as predominantly masculinist nationalist discourses indefinitely postponed the struggle for women’s rights, to first establish freedom for the nation. Did male writers seek to co-opt constructions of the New Woman? How does the establishment of modern versions of masculinity complicate these categorisations? Was the New Woman category constructed differently in the postcolonised peripheries than in the imperial centre? How did intersectionalities of race, gender, age and class combine to form the erasure of female literary legacies? And how do themes of erasure link to how female literary legacies were written out of what became ‘his-story’? We welcome comparisons of how the New Woman was created in the East and West, as well as previously unexplored pairings as a work of retrieval for erased and elided female literary legacies.
This seminar merges these significant streams in literary studies to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the importance of the Asia Pacific region to World Literature. How can the interplay between the Southern Hemisphere and East Asia recenter studies of World Literature away from European and North American paradigms, and perhaps even revise those paradigms themselves? How do art and cinema affect the transmission of literature throughout the Asia Pacific, ranging across locations as diverse as Taiwan, Guam, Hawai’i, and the Philippines to Indonesia and South America below the equator? How does the flow of literary material, through migration or translation, redraw the boundaries of the Pacific and East Asia? What new literary or geopolitical configurations emerge when the East Asia and the Southern Hemisphere are considered as a single region of literary production? Papers may range across any period or genre, but are encouraged to consider how the flow of artistic and literary exchange across the Pacific region, broadly conceived, aids in reconsidering both geopolitical alignments and the notions of “world” and “literature” at large.
Engaging with these themes, in this seminar we consider how optical technologies, beginning in the late 18th century, generated a mediated, constructed experience of reality that concurrently bred ambivalence, in the form of regressive nostalgia for an idealized, simpler, unmediated time for instance, alongside a fascination with illusionism. The privileged status of print culture has been threatened, but literature nevertheless has found new synergies and renewed creativity by interacting with newly dominant visual media. We explore how technologies of optical mediation provide a point of entry into pre- and post-Freudian discussions of the uncanny that M. Warner has described as that which crosses “the ambiguous, terrible, and enthralling borderland between animation and lifelessness” (Phantasmagoria). Examples may range from Gothic automata stories to modern robot tales, stage illusions and magic in popular performance genres such as phantasmagorias and féeries, to special effects in early cinema, or contemporary considerations of AI.
We invite proposals that engage with (but are not limited to) some of the following themes and questions:
• Historical approaches to mediated illusionism and anti-illusionism in magic performances, theater and early media
• The uncanny, secular magic, and magical thinking
• Technologies of perceptual mediation and strategies for “re-enchantment of the world” (J. Landy & M. Saler)
• The Freudian civilized/primitive dichotomy and its questioning in modern consciousness
• Ambivalent (euphoric/dysphoric) responses to technological hyper-mediation
• Transmedial responses to technologies of sensory mediation (in particular optical mediation) in the cultural continuum
How do we orient ourselves to texts? And how do texts orientate us? How do texts shape the world that we orient ourselves in? Since the invention of writing, fundamental reorientations of thinking have often occurred hand in hand with innovative forms of writing: Parmenides created didactic poetry of the divine in order to teach his doctrine of true being; Plato the dialogue in order to avoid all doctrines; Aristotle the treatise in order to teach it in his own name; Augustine the auto-biographical confession in order to explore his inner being before God; Montaigne the essay in order to seek truth via unbiased self-observation; Descartes the meditation in order to justify truth based on the certainty of one’s own thinking. This process of differentiation and innovation has continued up until today, for instance, via Nietzsche’s performances of masks, James Joyce’s experimental thoughtstream, Wittgenstein’s album, and Derrida’s deconstruction. Our contemporary world has witnessed an explosion of diverse digital forms of writing that has in many regards revolutionized the ways we communicate. New forms of communication can bring about radical reorientations; and foundational reorientations often require new forms of writing to communicate them.
In this seminar, we seek to explore, via the concepts of the philosophy of orientation, how different forms of writing orient us in different ways and create different worlds of orientation. The philosophy of orientation was developed by Werner Stegmaier, at first in German in his Philosophie der Orientation (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2008) and subsequently in its abridged and updated English translation What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2019).
We welcome all orientation-philosophical explorations of (but not limited to):
innovations of the forms of writing across time
the distinctions and connections between different genres of writing, such as philosophy and literature
how different forms of writing shape different ways of thinking and orientation
digital forms of writing
differences of writing regarding cultures, classes, races, and ethnic groups
the relationship between literary theories and texts
The relationship between queer politics and crises is not new. Queer movements after all occurred during and were exacerbated by various crises and political turning points: the Civil Rights movement, the AIDS pandemic, among other things. The recent biomedical and social crises have given rise to texts and practices that either mobilize or undo the radicalizing potential of “Queer Asia.” We can think of how Boys Love (BL) web series enjoyed extensive wide viewership in the East and Southeast Asian region during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these new series were produced in places under authoritarian and militarized economies. We can think of Call Her Ganda (2018), a documentary on the murder of Filipina transwoman Jennifer Laude at the hands of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (Pemberton was convicted but pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte). We can think of the politics of pinkwashing in the figuration of Tel Aviv as a queer city in the middle of the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine. We can think of the contradictions brought about by the now postponed Hong Kong Gay Games as it finds itself entangled in the larger politics of a city positioning itself as both an international hub and China’s special administrative region. We can think of queer Asian-Americans as they contend with the increase in racialized attacks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seminar thus seeks to explore the double meaning of “Queer Asia in Crisis.” On the one hand, we seek to examine how the recent global and regional crises produced emergent forms of queer texts and practices in Queer Asia. On the other hand, taking a leaf from David Eng, Jack Halberstam and Jose Esteban Muñoz’s seminal piece “What’s So Queer About Queer Studies Now?” (2005), we position “Queer Asia” as a term that too is in crisis. Put another way, we hope to ask: in the face of widespread social unrest, economic inequality, and death, where can we possibly locate the radicalizing potential of “Queer Asia” as an interpretive approach and an ethics of transgression and possibility?
Historically, the question of length has been the subject of a contentious debate in many theories of short fiction. But while “shortness” is undoubtedly an insufficient and an all-too limiting and quantitative criterion, it is also, in the simplest sense, what makes the short story a highly portable and translatable form. With its ability to easily navigate distinct narrative registers, subgenres, styles, and literary traditions, the short story’s inherent movable nature is reflected in the rapidity and abundance of its publication. It often circulates in both literary and non-specialized sources which are more volatile and transmissible than books, such as journals, pamphlets, academic and cultural periodicals, and, increasingly, digital outlets such as websites, blogs, and online magazines. Also, typically faster to translate than longer forms like the novel, as well as easier to translate than more semantically and structurally complex forms like poetry, the short story is widely disseminated in translation in edited anthologies that frequently aim to introduce their readers to unknown and/or previously untranslated works.
However, the short story is also a migrant or a traveling form even within its linguistic and geo-cultural world, often appearing in collections that promote, for example, the concept of a “Lusophone,” an “Anglophone,” or a “Francophone short story.” Considering the diversity that characterizes the many genres of short fiction and very short fiction, some of the topics we hope to explore in this seminar include: the literary and non-literary routes of the short story, both in translation and in the original; the history of the genre and its connection to literary as well as socio-cultural transformations; the short story as a global and/or local form; reception theory and the transnational genres and styles of short fiction; “worlding” the short story and reexamining its impact in comparative and world literature.
This panel welcomes papers on authors as varied as—but not limited to—Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, Louise Erdrich, Claire G. Coleman, Begum Rokeya, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Samuel R. Delany, N.K. Jemisin, Nino Cipri, Sameem Siddiqui, Omar El Akkad, P. Djèlí Clark, Akwaeke Emezi, Manish Melwani, Masande Ntshanga, Vandana Singh, Colson Whitehead, Chang-Rae Lee, Ling Ma, Cherie Dimaline, Ahmed Saadawi, Karen Tei Yamashita, and Daniel H. Wilson. Of particular interest is how we might understand the relationship of speculative and science fiction to post- and decolonial thought, abolitionist imaginaries, and non-Western and Indigenous cosmologies. Particular attention to questions of genre, form, authorship, and the political function of literature are emphatically welcomed.
* The term "decolonial" is used here to refer to a multiplicity of theoretical and political approaches oriented against (settler) colonialism, white supremacy, and the afterlives of slavery, and is not limited to the decoloniality paradigm born out of Latin American Subaltern Studies.
The narrative affordances (and limitations) of adaptation as an artistic medium
The transnational circulation of adaptive works
Adaptations that invoke a logic of “minor transnationalism”
Intersections between adaptation and translation