CFP: The Boundaries of European National Literatures

Alexander Maxwell's picture
Call for Papers
July 15, 2018
New Zealand
Subject Fields: 
Eastern Europe History / Studies, Literature, Modern European History / Studies


Patriots often express pride in national literature, claiming great works of art, or great novelists, as national icons. Literary figures may also imagine themselves promoting or embodying a national tradition. Whether novelists proclaim themselves national or are so proclaimed by others, however, the nation always has some boundary: as Benedict Anderson memorably put it, the nation is “inherently limited.” Even literatures whose boundaries are defined by a national language may have fuzzy boundaries, since the frontiers of the national language may be unclear or contested.


This conference explores the limits of the national language, either through an individual author, a literary circle or literary tradition, or in the minds of literary patriots. We are interested in papers that discuss how a particular author imagined the borders of the nation in her or his works, or alternatively in papers that discuss how a particular author's works reify or transcend national borders as others imagine them. We are also interested in "dialectical" literatures and their relationship to imagined national literatures. We are open to both high and popular culture. Chronologically, we are interested in the age of nationalism, which for Europe we provisionally date to 1789.


The event will take place 25 August 2018 at the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. The event is free and open to the public. We regret that we have no money to support travel costs.


Send 100-word abstracts or queries by July 15 to:

Alexander Maxwell (

Contact Info: 

Alexander Maxwell
Victoria University of Wellington - History