Next year (9-10 February, 2018) a conference will be organised at Ghent University about perspectives for a transnational literary history of the Low Countries. This conference – Literature without Frontiers? – aims to bring together a number of telling examples that advocate a transnational perspective for the construction and writing of the literary history (histories?) of the Low Countries in the period 1200-1800. We invite scholars of the periods involved to address case studies (authors, texts, translations, mechanisms of textual production, motifs, tropes, genres) that on account of their ‘transnational’ character have fallen outside the scope of the current attempts of literary historiography.
Traditional literary historiography is rooted in the nineteenth-century construction of national literatures based on the political desire to demarcate national states and their corresponding linguistic identities from each other. For the study of the literature that predates the nineteenth-century nation-state the taxonomy of literary phenomena on the basis of geographical frontiers that were in most cases non-existent at the time, is a highly artificial though very common practice. The organizers of the conference Literature without Frontiers? believe that the study of literature in this long period is better served by a transnational perspective, if only because of the transnational character of its functioning. On account of their limiting focus, nationally oriented literary histories of the periods in question cannot but undervalue the actual cultural processes at work both in the international ‘Republic of Letters’ as well as in the language regions that exceed the borders of the current nation states.
Keynote speakers: Frans Blom (University of Amsterdam) and David Wallace (University of Pennsylvania)
Proposals for a thirty-minute presentation are expected by June 1st, 2017. For more details, see the CFP Literature without Frontiers.