Living Europe, Writing Europe: Literary Perceptions of Urbanization and ‹Provincializing› European Identities
From April 15-17, 2014 the Europa-Kolleg of the University of Münster is hosting the conference “Living Europe, Writing Europe: Literary Perceptions of Urbanization and ‹Provincializing› European Identities”.
Dipesh Chakrabarty’s notion of ‹provincializing› Europe is a dissection of the perception of Europe as a cradle of modernity. Its value lies with the production of innovative concepts in a debate of European future(s) after globalization. But the act of ‹provincializing› is just one example from a larger repertoire of critical methods used to identify cultural parameters that shape regional identities (which, in an expansion of Chakrabarty’s concept, can also be localized within Europe). These serve as model identities for larger communities, such as provinces or even states. Similar parameters exist for urban identities, allowing for a comparative approach between urbanization in Europe and similar processes which, according Benedict Anderson, are constitutive for the emergence of “imagined communities”. These include, for example, the development of an institutionalized nexus between religious belief and territory or the increasing centralization of political systems.
Whether cities or regions gain in importance due to this development (or whether they are just perceived differently) remains one of the questions to be clarified. In terms of the “spatial turn”, cities and regions are not only to be perceived as geographical entities. Instead, processes of urbanization and ‹provincializing› should be considered for the social practices and medial procedures that inform them. This conference aims to explore how urban and regional literatures reflect Europe as a semantic space and how these concepts of Europe can be evaluated.
Possible topics may include:
What is the significance of urbanism and regionalism in historical and literary debates on Europe and how are they made useful in the current discourse, e.g. how are they taken up in literature?
To what extent do urbanization and ‹provincializing› create spaces of imagination that go beyond geographical places and what are the consequences for European literature and for European history and historiography?
Why and in which contexts do urban or regional communities engage with Europe as a spatial and geographical entity? Which cultural or literary practices did become established strategies over time?
In how far do European cities and regions try to evade mere geographical positioning and how do social practices and medial (especially literary) procedures come into play?
Are there cities or regions with a special prominence in literary figurations or constructions of Europe? Is there a structural affinity of urbanization and towards a pattern of centre and periphery, or possibly a tendency to subvert this dichotomy?
The conference is organized by doctoral students of different fields of research and is addressed to young academics. Both students of literature and scholars from other fields are welcome to present and discuss their work on Europe. The conference program closes with a planning section for a possible network for European philology and cultural studies.
We invite papers of 20 minutes duration in German or English that focus on urban and regional spaces in Europe and the corresponding (European) identities forming in these spaces. Papers should take an international or European perspective into account, for example on the basis of cultural phenomena or literary texts.
Please send your title and abstract (max. 350 words) and a short biographical note (max. 150 words) until January 31, 2014 to:
Participants will be notified by February 15, 2014. Travel expenses can be subsidized by max. 150.00€. Accommodation can be provided in the “JugendGästehaus Aasee”. There will be a conference fee of 20.00€.
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