The Location of Transnational Literature Conference, April 4-7, 2013

The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting will take place at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada April 4 – 7, 2013.

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In recent debates on the global, cosmopolitan, and diasporic aspects of contemporary cultural productions, transnational literature often designates those fictional works that cross national boundaries, are produced by migrant writers, and circulate in a global marketplace. Yet what is transnational literature? What are its spatial and temporal coordinates? Who are its readers? While definitions abound – veering from a focus on writers’ ethnic origins and geographical locations, to questions of form and content, or of translation and circulation – the transnational remains a porous concept term. In literary studies, the transnational turn was triggered by the rise of minority, multicultural, and postcolonial studies as well as globalization studies (Jay 2010). This focus on mobility and hybridity resulted in a large-scale remapping of the geographical spaces of national literatures.

This seminar explores works that transnationalize literary canons and the means by which they do so. What are some of the models for the reading of fictional works that are both a product of and engaged with the forces of globalization? How does transnational literature transform our sense of location, identity, and identification? Who navigates transnational spaces? What about place-bound texts that underscore obstacles to mobility, especially for the sans-papiers, refugees, and stateless people? How can we explore transnational literature outside the center-periphery model or beyond nationality and race? How productive is the transnational as a framework for interpreting contemporary literature in the age of globalization? Papers may explore the transnational in earlier centuries and in various linguistic traditions.


Conference Theme

Our theme for 2013 is “Global Positioning Systems.”

At once domesticated and uncanny, world-mapping and world-changing, ubiquitous and invisible, GPS technology resonates broadly both as an exemplary metonym of contemporary technology and as a metaphor. Conference presenters are invited to extend the metaphor widely in space and time and to non-technological realms. In particular, we are interested

2013 Conference Seminar Themes

Conference Information

The ACLA’s annual conferences have a distinctive structure in which most papers are grouped into twelve-person seminars that meet two hours per day for the three days of the conference to foster extended discussion. Some eight-person (or smaller) seminars meet just the first two days of the conference. This structure allows each participant to be a full member of one seminar, and to sample other seminars during the remaining time blocks. Previous conference programs that show this pattern are available at the ACLA website. The conference also includes plenary sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions, a business meeting, a banquet, and other events.

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