State of the Nation: Literary and Visual Nationalisms, Then and Now
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: DR. GRACIELA MONTALDO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
25TH OCTOBER, 2019 // HUMANITIES BUILDING// STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY, STONY BROOK, NY 11794
Among all modern political phenomena, nationalism, according to Perry Anderson, is the most value-contested, with judgments of its record ranging from admiration to anathema. Conceptions of the nation and the nation-state also vary widely from objectivist definitions based on ethnicity and race to postmodern concepts of discursively-constituted imaginaries which interrogate claims of timelessness and truth. This broad spectrum of differing ideas about nationalism and the nation have informed and shaped cultural production and, likewise, cultural production has impacted the state of the nation.
Literature, as a symbolic and imaginative construction, has long contributed to conceptions of nationhood. Spanish author Manuel Vilas writes of the crucial role of the 19th-century novel in the construction of national identities and asks if national identity needs writers in order to exist. He asserts contemporary literature's aversion to the notion of the homeland, while much of the Catalunya's intelligentsia align themselves with separatist nationalism. Broadly conceived, if the nineteenth century was about building the nation, and the twentieth century pointed to the failures at its foundations, the twenty-first century bears witness to the consolidation of the "global village” alongside the still-vital nation-state.
Energized by this potential inflection point, the State of the Nation conference aims to explore the ways in which nationalism, nationality, and national identities are and were shaped, promoted, constructed, and interrogated in literary and visual languages and how the nation has been and still is used as a cultural-political argument.
The graduate students of Stony Brook University, Department of Hispanic Languages & Literature invite proposals for papers, in areas relevant to the conference theme, about literary and visual works engaging with nationalism, the nation, and national identity. Key thematic strands may include:
-National and collective identities
-Migration and nationalism
-The enemy "within" and exclusionary practices of nation building
-lntellectuals, artists, and writers and national identity
-Visual arts in the construction of icons and state building
-Transnational wealth and nation-state authority
-Boris' Brexit, Trump's America, Catalan lndependentisme, Bolsonaro's celebration of authoritarian repression, or Maduro's petro-socialism and historical antecedents
-Alternative politico-social paradigms: Counter-hegemony, Post-nation, Extended Nation and Communitarianism
Languages: Spanish, English, Catalan, Portuguese/Brazilian.
Evelyn Cruise, Doctoral Student