Imagined Communities in World LiteratureCommunity, simply defined, is a network of individuals and groups, connected to one another on multiple intersecting accounts, ranging from needs, kinship and ethnicity to cultural, artistic or religious activity, as well as gender identity and social activism. However, our idea of community is frequently challenged in a world transformed continually by technological and scientific developments, social/political upheavals, and the ever-impending climate crisis.
One venue where the shifting meanings of community and its hybrid nature can be addressed is the comparative study of ‘community’ and ‘community building’ in literature. What is community consciousness and how does it emerge? How do we envision a present or future community, or its absence? How is communal disintegration conceived and what alternatives to community open up in the absence of community? What are the impacts of radical change such as war, social and technological change, migration, natural disasters or anticipated transformations on the possibility and impossibility of future communities? How are ancient and present communal structures/institutions re-imagined in literature? How does literature explore and exploit conceptions of community, whether they are philosophical, aesthetic or strictly historical? What are the limits of community in terms of who or what is included and excluded?
This seminar welcomes papers that engage with these and related questions in world literature broadly conceived, including but not limited to modern and contemporary speculative fiction, indigenous literature, post-nationalist, post-colonial and decolonial literature.