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Call for papers: HERMES seminar 2012

30 January 2012

Impact and Intervention: The Relevance of Literature in a Changing World

Amsterdam, June 10-16, 2012

Annual International Post-Graduate Seminar in collaboration with the universities united in the HERMES-network

Over the last decades, the study of literature has changed drastically. These changes are the result of (inter)disciplinary developments as well as the consequence of societal changes.

The increasing interdisciplinarity of literary studies, to begin with, has brought literary scholars into an intense discussion with philosophy, aesthetic theory, cultural sociology, political theory, popular culture studies, et cetera. As a result, literary scholars of today study a wide variety of cultural phenomena.

Furthermore, literary theorists and sociologists have charted a number of socio-cultural developments that have had quite an impact on the work of writers, readers and literary professionals.

One can think of the diversification of culture (high vs. low, new media, ethnicity…), the increase in cultural production, the loss of humanist ideals, the growing dominance of information technologies, the (assumed) vanishing of print culture, and so on. Literary culture, in other words, is changing rapidly and drastically. These (and other) academic and socio-cultural transformations seem to undermine, or at least transform, the ways in which researchers used to think of literature and literary culture.

The paradox is that they, by doing so, contribute to the renewed topicality of very basic, but crucial questions, such as: What is literature? What is literary experience? How is literature perceived, discussed, viewed, structured? Where, how and why do people have an interest in literature? How is literature transformed by the changing society of today, and how can literature transform society?

The impact and relevance of literature and literary studies, in other words, are on the agenda again.

The Hermes 2012 seminar invites participants to reflect on the impact of and interventions by literature – from any historical era – in the context of the cultural and political transformations of our time.

Participants are encouraged to address these issues by exploring notions as literary impact and literary intervention from a wide variety of approaches.

Issues to be discussed might include, but are not restricted to:

  • Ethical, political, public interventions by literary authors
  • Literature and commitment
  • Relevance of analyzing author X in historical era Y
  • Responsibility and literary research
  • Impact of literature in the public sphere
  • Beyond postmodern relativism?
  • Didactic or therapeutic aspects of literature
  • Diachronic perspectives on the relevance of literature

Key note speakers are to be announced.

If you are interested in participating, please send a proposal for a paper of max. 300 words and a biographical note of max 150 words, to the OSL office at before February 15th 2012.

Note: the HERMES seminar is open to PhD students associated with one of the participating research schools and universities.

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