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The International Conference for the Study of the Novel. Second Edition: Migration and Economic Inequalities in the History of the Novel: Discourses, Representations, Identity (Re)Construction

Sextil Pu?cariu Institute of Linguistics and Literary History, 21 Emil Racovi?? St., Cluj-Napoca, Ro
Organization: Sextil Pu?cariu Institute of Linguistics and Literary History & Babe?-Bolyai University
Categories: Postcolonial, Digital Humanities, Literary Theory, Cultural Studies, Eastern European
Event Date: 2024-06-21 to 2024-06-22 Abstract Due: 2024-05-02

Call for Papers

The International Conference for the Study of the Novel. Second Edition:

Migration and Economic Inequalities in the History of the Novel: Discourses, Representations, Identity (Re)Construction

21-22 June 2024



The second edition of the International Conference for the Study of the Novel continues the line of inquiry pursued in the first edition of the Conference, with respect to the new methods and analytical tools promoted in contemporary literary studies after the transnational and digital turns. The 2024 edition takes a more polemical and focused approach on the mechanisms of circulation that have become the main concern of transnational literary studies, but have usually concerned the mobility or transfer of narrative genres, writers, and texts themselves, among different sites of world literature. Although transnational literary studies did prove successful in their attempts to test innovative hypotheses and uncover new trajectories in the global evolution of the novel, they also preserved a rather conservative and idealistic view on world literary circulation (Damrosch 2003). This view has been resonant with the discourse on globalization and cosmopolitanism actively issued by the political and media mainstream, especially in the period after the end of the Cold War and in the context of EU’s enlargement and consolidation (Beck 2007). To be sure, the last two decades witnessed traumatic global events, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the successive economic and refugee crises, that contributed to the world-wide rise of populist movements bent on a radical contestation of globalist projects. Yet, even as political cultures of the world shifted toward populism, the cosmopolitan discourse remained influential in literary studies to this day, especially in the area of migration literature. To that extent, world literature still holds an elitist view on intellectual migration (Walkowitz 2007), which aestheticizes the idea of mobility in accordance with modernist and postmodernist values (such as dettachment, autonomy, hybridization, transnationality etc.).

However, such romanticized view on circulation as reinvention of identity is no longer suited to describe contemporary global processes whereby massive numbers of people are coerced into migrating by precarious conditions of living and by various other economic and social forms of systemic violence. Therefore, our conference invites a reflection on how the contemporary global novel reclaims awareness of the processes described above, and can provide an alternative to the utopian discourse of cosmopolitanism. What modes of storytelling and fictional depiction of precarious migration and economic uneveness at large (Deckard and Shapiro 2019) emerge in the post-Cold War novel? Can we identify fictional interrogations of economic unevenness and corresponding forms of social displacement, in other periods of literary history, aside from the contemporary period, when those shifts come across as striking? Is there enough proof to delineate a narrative genre reflective of these social and economic problematics, as distinct from fully-fledged and overexposed (in theoretical, analytical, and lexicographic terms) genres like exile literature and postcolonial fiction?

Possible topics of discussion include, but are not limited to:

1.     The novel as platform of interrogating economic inequalities: key moments, poetics, fictional constructs.

2.     The narrative representation of centre-periphery power structures operative at global, regional, and national levels.

3.     The global map of migrant fiction: timelines, locations, types of reception.

4.     Genre relationships and differences among the literature of migration, novel of exile, and postcolonial novel.

5.     (Progressive or conservative) representational politics of mobility, in relation to the rise of populism and illiberalism in contemporary political cultures of the world.

6.     Mapping internal migration in the history of the novel: urban, suburbs, small-town, rural.

7.     Gender discourse and identities in the literature of migration.

8.     Representations of corporality in the narratives of transnational mobility: labor, violence, commodification.

9.     Private spaces and interaction with public spaces in novels about migration.

10.  The experience of migration and minority groups, ethnic communities, underprivileged social categories.


The 2024 edition of the International Conference for the Study of the Novel continues the initiative launched in the first edition, and welcomes workshops meant to share the preliminary or final results achieved within research team grants concerned with the formal, thematic, systemic, transnational, quantitative, or digital study of the novel.


Further reading:

Homi K. Bhabha, Location of Culture, Routledge, 1994.

Ulrich Beck, Cosmopolitan Vison. Translated by Ciaran Cronin, Polity Press, 2006.

Roger Bromley, Narratives for a New Belonging: Diasporic Cultural Fictions, Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

David Damrosch, What is World Literature?, Princeton University Press, 2003.

Sharae Deckard and Stephen Shapiro (eds.), World Literature, Neoliberalism, and the Culture of Discontent, Pallgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Søren Frank, Migration and Literature: Günter Grass, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, and Jan Kjærstad, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Sten Pultz Moslund, Migration Literature and Hybridity: The Different Speeds of Transcultural Change, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Edward Said, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Harvard University Press, 2002.

Berthold Schoene, The Cosmopolitan Novel, Edinburgh University Press, 2009.

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Mapping World Literature: International Canonization and Transnational Literatures, Continuum, 2008.

Rebecca L. Walkowitz (ed.), Immigrant Fictions: Contemporary Literature in an Age of Globalization, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2007.


Organizers: Sextil Pu?cariu Institute of Linguistics and Literary History, Romanian Academy, Cluj-Napoca Branch; Babe?-Bolyai University, Faculty of Letters (PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2021-1207, within PNCDI III).


Location: Sextil Pu?cariu Institute of Linguistics and Literary History, 21 Emil Racovi?? St., Cluj-Napoca, Romania


The working languages of the conference: English, French, and Romanian.


Submission address: icsn.proposals@gmail.com

Contact person: dr. Adriana Stan


Registration fees:

40 Euros (regular registration)

20 Euros (PhD students and early-career researchers under 26)


Important dates:

Proposal submission: 2 May 2024

Notice of acceptance: 20 May 2024



Adriana Stan