October 6, 2020


In recent years, the Migrant Question has become one of Europe’s most salient issues, though its designation as a “crisis” belies the long history of population movement between Europe’s former colonies, imperial peripheries, and the Continent itself. This seminar invites papers that engage with media – literature, film, theater, visual culture, and social media – emerging from contemporary migration into and across Europe. We solicit comparative readings that address representations of mobility/immobility through such figures as labor migrants, exiles, asylum seekers, and stateless people, among others. Our discussion will interrogate the production of migration across the purported division between Europe’s colonial past and its post-colonial present. We also seek contributions to relevant theoretical paradigms, such as those dealing with nationalist and cosmopolitan discourses, and the place of Europe’s religious Others in those discourses. We are interested in specific texts/media that shed light on the Migrant Question’s relationship to European political formations, from political mobilization by and on behalf of migrants, to the ascendance of far-right anti-immigrant discourses. Each of the last six years have brought the global number of displaced people to record highs; the cultural and demographic ramifications for European societies are grounded in a complex interplay of forces from decades and centuries past – with implications extending long into the future.
Organizer: Ethan Pack. Co-Organizer: Olivia C. Harrison


Migration in Pre-Twentieth-Century Literatures
The age of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing brought more attention to international travel and migration in our seemingly globalized world. This seminar invites papers that explore pre-twentieth-century accounts and discussions of migration in any literary tradition. The seminar asks: What knowledge and thoughts were produced about and around migration? How can pre-twentieth-century representations of migration help reflect on our current debates about migration and/or provide us with alternative approaches to it? Topics may include but are not limited to:

• Imaginations of mobility
• Conceptualization of ideas relevant to migration, such as citizenship, “illegal presence,” and geo-political boundaries
• Forced migration, such as migration of slaves/refugees and deportation
• Spaces of migration, such as immigrant neighborhoods and transportation
• Technologies of migration
• Xenophobia and/or racism
• Hospitality
• Assimilation
• Cultural Conflicts
• Emotions relevant to migration, such as pleasures and traumas
• The relationship between different forms of migration, such as the connection between immigrating and sojourning
Paper abstract submission You will be able to select the title of this seminar in your submission. The deadline is Oct 31. Papers on non-Western literary texts are particularly welcome. Please contact Menglu Gao ( if you have further questions.

Asia and Revivalist Ireland exchanged reciprocal Postcolonial, Transcultural and Modernist literary models in the twentieth-century as part of our shared global history. New literary movements arose in postcolonized peripheries in China, Japan, Korea, India and Ireland, to challenge constructions of colonial and capitalist modernity from the imperial centers. Innovative variations of postcolonized modernism and transcultural exchange emerged to pose alternative imaginings on how to be Asian and modern, or Irish and modern in a postcolonized setting. Irish Revivalists provided an alternative route to the modern for nascent modern Asian literary movements, one that was counter-utopian, and bypassed assumptions on constructions of race that saturated discourses in literatures from the imperial center. New trends in comparative Asian Studies and Irish Studies re-examine mutual literary connections between China and Ireland, Japan and Ireland, Korea and Ireland and India and Ireland, and how Asian influences circled back to inform the Irish Revivalists. From these exchanges questions arise - on how the New Modernist Canon can expand to include planetary modernisms, whether the Postcolonial condition and Modernism are imbricated or overlap, and how the postcolonial condition contributed to the urgent modernist need to ‘make it new’. We welcome all papers that discuss the related matters of Postcolonialism and Modernism and offer other comparative pairings between Asia and Ireland.

Please submit your paper through the ACLA website. Please contact Ji Hyea ( if you have any questions.

Organizer: Simone O Malley Sutton. Co-Organizer: Ji Hyea Hwang.

Bored to Death: What do we talk about when we talk about boredom?

What is boredom and why do we feel bored? Recently, research on boredom has gained momentum in the scientific community, particularly in neuroscience and clinical psychology, where the symptoms of boredom and the behavioral patterns of the bored person are scrutinized (i.e. Boredomlab). Boredom, however, has been explored by philosophers for centuries and has been making a persistent appearance in the modern novel from nineteenth and century to present, in the moments of contemplation, waiting, idleness or complaints of bored characters. Henrick Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler says she has “only got a gift for one thing in the world” and that is boring herself to death; Charles Dickens’ well-known bored lady, Lady Dedlock is known for being “bored to death” in her routine; Gertrude Stein on account of feeling bored, decides to leave medicine and launches her literary career. On another front, Robert Walser in Jacob von Gunten asks whether we can even talk about boredom if there is always something to do. The state of boredom is gradual in onset, but “discursive significations” (Sianne Ngai) of boredom are sudden, explosive and precise, usually revealing a set of negative emotions in a particular mode of language, namely, complaint. Complaints of the bored figures, evoking a sense of displeasure, reflect a moment of becoming aware of their mood and a desire to escape boredom. What do we talk about when we talk about boredom and what does boredom tell us? This panel invites papers that examine the state of boredom and bored characters in literature. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Suggested topics include but are not limited to:  

  • Gestures of boredom 
  • Idleness  
  • Complaint   
  • Affect and Boredom  
  • Boarding school diaries   
  • Value of time and boredom  
  • Attention / Distraction   
  • Tone of language in boredom   
  • Refusal and resignation   
  • Desire for desire in boredom 

Please submit your paper abstracts through the ACLA submission portal by October 31, 2020. For questions, please contact Busra Copuroglu at 

Indian Ocean Imaginaries
The Indian Ocean has a unique history of circulation of people, objects, and ideas linking cultures and continents. This seminar explores the Indian Ocean as a unique site that generates new and distinctive paradigms to frame our social and cultural imagination. We invite contributions that explore Indian Ocean narratives, archives, and epistemologies as a way to grapple with the region’s multiply located power structures, overlapping and fluid categories of race, gender, ethnicity, caste, and class, and contested histories of nation and diaspora. This shift to an Indian Ocean framework entails inverting the land- and continent-based approaches as well as rejecting Euro-centric archives in the studies of non-Western cultures. This seminar, therefore, considers theoretical and methodological innovations centered around the Indian Ocean as a site for theorizing from the global South. How do categories of literature and philosophy, the concepts of race, gender, and sexuality, or the imaginaries of nation and community, the globe and the planet transform when approached through Indian Ocean sources and systems of knowledge? What kind of discourses, histories, subjectivities, and epistemologies emerge? Proposals on materials in Swahili, Creole, French, Portuguese, Arabic and Indian Ocean languages are welcome. Possible topics include: migration; Afro-Asian relations; translation; slavery and its afterlives; comparative studies of oceans; and ecology and climate change.

Organizer: Kritish Rajbhandari ( Co-Organizer: Serah Kasembeli

Organizers: Anhiti Patnaik and Juan Evaristo Valls Boix

This seminar invites papers that interrogate the terms under which contemporary interactions between the 'Self' and the 'Other' take place on digital platforms. It deconstructs the binary of the ‘home’ and the ‘world’ and the 'First World' and 'Third World' by analyzing new cultural mobilities and power structures of globalized, outsourced, and work-from-home economies. Can technology produce reciprocal tolerance between different nations and cultures without the need for physical travel? Can it create de-territorialized spaces of desire, friendship, and xenophilia within the very borders of the ‘home’? Does it merely afford an illusion of cohesion and digital cosmopolitanism? Kwame Anthony Appiah’s concept of “cosmopolitan patriotism,” Zygmunt Bauman’s “liquid modernity,” Bernard Steigler’s “digital toxicity,” and Ethan Zuckerman’s “bridge-building” and “cognitive diversity” are some key foundations in this regard. We welcome papers that deploy interdisciplinary methodologies to address themes like digitalizing desire, digital proletarianization, cultural diplomatics, globalization and neo-colonialism, social media revolution, politics of open access, issues of race, gender, and disability in online teaching and global academia, hate speech and trolling, ethical tourism and virtual travel, affective communities of the global North and South, etc. Please upload a 250 w abstract and 100 w professional bio or email it to by 10/31/20.

How Could We Read Now: The Sociology of Literature/The Value of Sociology

For a generation of scholars whose conditions of literary study are no longer secure, questions about the politics of method (surface or depth? critique or postcritique?) engender broader questions about the politics of the method debates. To put it bluntly: when critical paradigms and material support seem equally exhausted, how could we possibly read now? The political implications of growing precarity have generated renewed interest in sociological methods, which allow us to analyze institutions, literary cultures, and intellectual communities—including our own as literary scholars. There is a robust tradition of sociological methods in literary studies: analyses of taste and prestige; ethnographic fieldwork; institutional histories; biography and oral histories; and digital humanities and quantitative methods. This seminar aims to take stock of how sociological methods have re-framed debates around the politics of literary critical methods and to consider future directions of literary studies. How do sociological methods trouble prevailing literary-historical narratives and open new comparative possibilities? What can they reveal about the conditions of literary culture in different geographical and historical contexts? What might sociological methods tell us about the political effects of literature, and what are the political ramifications of sociological methods? We welcome work engaging sociological methods as well as position papers on methodology and pedagogy.

Organizer: Kelly Roberts. Co-Organizer: Patrick Anson.

Epistemic Justice in Literary Studies
Organized by Victoria Zurita and Chen Bar-Itzhak (Stanford University)
This panel addresses epistemic inequality in literary studies: the categories, theories and methods through which we read and conceptualize literature are still determined at the center of global academic production, while peripheral epistemologies often do not circulate beyond national borders and therefore do not take part in the shaping of the discipline. We believe that attempts to rethink literary studies from outside the Euro-American scholarly traditions should be guided by a spirit of epistemic justice, defined by philosopher Miranda Fricker as equal participation in hermeneutic resources and a fair distribution of epistemic trust. Given the disparities in capital shaping the relations between departments, universities, languages, and scholarly traditions across the globe, we ask: What modes of conceptualization, theorization and reading are conducive to foster epistemic justice? What institutional conditions and practices are necessary to redress epistemic inequality in literary studies? We invite papers addressing the need to revise the fundamental conceptual, theoretical, and methodological assumptions of literary studies towards a more epistemically just discipline. Possible themes include:
Literary theory and methodologies beyond the dominant Euro-American traditions and their epistemic affordances
- Ways of reading that promote epistemic justice
- The problematics of universalizing models based on the literatures of the "center" (for example, conceptions of genres, periods and literary devices)
- The role of institutions in creating and maintaining epistemic inequality
- The circulation and failed circulation of literary theory and methodologies and models between centers and peripheries
We particularly welcome submissions from scholars in regions and fields that are underrepresented in current literary studies debates. Please submit your paper through the ACLA website here by October 31. For questions, contact us at ,
This panel is interested in exploring the ways that speculative and science fiction texts, particularly those by authors of color and writers from the global South, engage in projects of imagining otherwise worlds. Whether these worlds are made up of abolitionist geographies beyond carcerality where justice is enacted differently or planetary futures that experiment with utopian and dystopian visions of how climate change and the capitalocene/anthropocene might unfold, postcolonial speculative fiction is a treasure house of political, ethical, and aesthetic interventions that has only recently begun to be studied and valued appropriately. Whereas science fiction has been more readily taken up by scholars of English and American Studies, this panel seeks to ask what our disciplinary training and linguistic proficiencies as comparatists might contribute to the study of science fiction, and how we might bring them to bear on global South and minoritarian literatures.

For instance, what do we make of the scene of alien contact in Nigeria in Tade Thompson’s Wormwood Trilogy? What are the consequences of Nnedi Okorafor's distinction between Afro- and Africanfuturism and how, if at all, does it map onto Black French and African Francophone SF by authors such as Werewere Liking and Amadou Hampâté Bâ? And how might we engage turn-of-the-century Bengali SF such as Rokeya Hossain’s feminist utopia, Sultana’s Dream, and Jagadish Chandra Bose’s weather-control tale in Niruddesher Kahini?

Word and Music in the Theory and Practice of Transnationalism

In recent years, Word and Music Studies has become increasingly emmeshed in debates surrounding comparative, transnational, and world literature. Indeed, given the field’s interdisciplinary and often international scope, Word and Music Studies seem specially disposed to contribute to the comparative study of literature, given that the texts at the core of the discipline already deal with translation in its various guises. As Peter Dayan puts it, the study of the relation between word and other media looks at how “the arts, in their different media, have constructed themselves in relation to each other not by working together in peaceful harmony, but by keeping each other at a certain kind of distance; and it is the quality of that distance that matters.” And perhaps this stress on productive distance and inspirational gaps that make Word and Music Studies most valuable to current studies of a comparative nature. In this panel, we invite papers that consider how word and music, in theory or in practice, facilitate or hinder transnational exchange by working with or against the gap between cultures, languages, or media. Papers might consider topics such setting poems to music across languages, the influence of foreign music on the development of modern poetics in different cultural contexts, comparative histories of word and music East and West, transnational musical collaborations, or analogies likening the word-music relation to the practice of transnationalism itself.

Organizers: Ryan Johnson and Jessica Sun

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions at, or


Emerging Subjects: Transnational Modernism and the Urban Imaginary


In recent years the geographical, temporal, and cultural lineage of canonical modernism as the assumed outgrowth of Anglo-American and European traditions has given way to new approaches for understanding the articulations and experiences of modernism and modernity—alternative modernities, multiple modernities, geomodernisms, and “planetarity,” to name a few. In keeping with ongoing attempts to reassess the temporalities, spatialities, and formal components of modernist studies, we invite submissions that explore the ways in which representations of the urban imaginary articulate anew the various interrelations, affiliations, and antitheses of modernity, modernism, and the modern. The city endures as a generative site for thinking about global modernism in dialogical terms; indeed, the inter-play and hybridization of competing literary, theoretical, and intellectual paradigms across seemingly disparate cultural formations is central to a more nuanced conception of transnational modernism.  


Organizer: Desmond Harding. Co-Organizer: Nicole Sparling Barco.


250-word proposals should submitted through the ACLA portal by 31 October 2020. Please direct questions to both Desmond Harding ( and Nicole Sparling Barco (  


Cognitive Faulkner

Aili Pettersson Peeker and John Schranck, Co-organizers,

“Memory believes before knowing remembers, believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.” In this passage from Light in August, Faulkner articulates memory’s persistence. His recognition that emotionally charged memories linger even as details fade is why, for Faulkner, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The relationship between past and present has since Faulkner’s time been complicated by cognitive science. In the words of Daniel Schacter, “remembering the past is not merely a matter of activating or awakening a dormant trace or picture in the mind, but instead involves a far more complex interaction between the current environment, what one expects to remember, and what is retained from the past.” This seminar asks how sensory perception in Faulkner’s work intersects with the current historical moment. With its diachronic reach and polyphonic narration, his oeuvre illustrates how past trauma lives on in ‘individual’ minds and bleeds through generations. Reading Faulkner in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose exigencies include a reckoning with the fact that the US’ past is “not even past,” we aim to address the relationship between memory and race with attention to the construction of characters' minds.

Topics may include:
How race, gender, class, and culture shape embodied cognition and emotion
Memory, denial, and trauma
Faulkner and African American literature
Cross-cultural and comparative readings of Faulkner and cognition


Global Decolonization in the Art and Literature of the Americas

This seminar aims to create a cross-disciplinary conversation among scholars working at the intersections of Latin American, Latino/a/x, Caribbean, and hemispheric studies. We invite papers that investigate one or both of the following overarching questions concerning the contested field of the Americas and the era of global decolonization. First, how did the art and literature of this period respond to emergent discourses of decolonization? Second, how do contemporary artworks conceptualize, update, and reconfigure historical decolonization and its legacies?

Papers might also address questions regarding how the art and literature of the Americas mediate points of convergence between colonialism and capitalism. Additional questions include:
--How do these artworks model anti-colonial and anti-capitalist ways of thinking and imagining?
--How do artworks produced in the era of global decolonization anticipate neoliberalization and globalization?
--How do contemporary artworks understand historical decolonization in relation to these processes?
--How do these artworks trade on the contradictions, possibilities, and fragmentary logics of global decolonization?
--How do the entanglements of class, indigeneity, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and language contour the field(s) and artworlds of the Americas?
--What methods are best suited to interpreting global decolonization in the art and literature of the Americas? 

Since Foucault's Le Souci de Soi, Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice, and Nel Noddings' Caring, the notion of care has built bridges between philosophy, psychology, ecology, sociology, anthropology, and feminism. However, significantly less work has been published in the field of literature and cinema and fewer theorists address issues related to care ethics in their analyses of fiction. The first goal of this panel is to create knots of tension between care ethics, care practices, and fiction. This panel is particularly interested in studying how the direct and indirect connections between lived space, lived experience, and notions of care are articulated. It also seeks to amplify our comprehension of these terms by studying their relationality to literature and cinema. What is the role of caring, of worrying about ourselves, proximate or distant others, and objects ? How does it manifest itself in the literary and cinematographic texts? ? Does care go beyond words, is it (only) an affect ? Can it be geographical, architectural? Can it be national or political ? Is care gendered? We invite contributors to submit abstracts that address any of the questions raised above or one of the following topics, without being limited to them: Care and Politics, Care and Animals, Care and Object,s Care and Nationalism, Care and Decolonial studies, Care and Postcolonial studies, Care and Queer studies, Care and Atrocity studies, Care and Disability studies.

Organizer: Badreddine Othman