International Conference - Locations and Dislocations of Theory

Mihaela Ursa's picture
Call for Papers
March 9, 2020 to March 10, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Humanities, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, European History / Studies

The past few decades have been crucial for the dismantling of theory, formerly understood as a monolithic concept, applicable to a wide range of epochs and regions. Rather than a timeless or non-spatial concept, theory represents “a historically circumscribed mode of thinking about literature” (Galin Tihanov). Researchers informed by Edward Saidʼs “traveling theory” (James Clifford, Caren Kaplan, Mieke Bal) have also insisted on the enormous pressure of context in shaping and reshaping theory. Convincing metanarratives of itinerant international canonization in the 20th century literature (Mads Rosendahl Thomsen) have opened the theoretical debate.

The system of circulation and adaptation of theories in different local contexts has been, we believe, insufficiently investigated. Moreover, with few exceptions, theory has been localized in Western cultures, while the other regions of the world are presumed to provide, at their best, the literary material necessary for its illustration. In a seminal study, Revathi Krishnaswami points to the fact that, while the literary canon has constantly expanded with the emergence of postcolonial comparatism, the systematic reflection on literature is still treated as a Western European or American trait. Therefore, she calls for the building of a set of “world literary knowledges” that would include conceptual hypotheses from outside the consecrated “World Republic of Letters”.

Conference description:

Our conference, an event of the Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory ( invites different reflections on the relationship between theory and context, on concept transfer from one environment to the other, on the mapping of World Theory at certain points in time, on theoryʼs embededness in local cultures (either as “location”, or as “untranslatability”) or, quite the contrary, on its cross-cultural potential. Not least of all, our aim is to provide the necessary framework for addressing the hegemonic relationships between cultures in terms of theory production and to explore cultural strategies in which these “world literary knowledges” can effectively extend their territory outside Western borders.

We expect proposals of individual papers and panels (author name and affiliation, paper title, 150 words paper proposal, 100 words author bio-note) by December 20, 2019. All proposals and questions will be sent to Alex Goldiș or Mihaela Ursa, at

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Galin Tihanov, Queen Mary University, London, UK

Delia Ungureanu, Bucharest University, Romania

Andrei Terian, Lucian Blaga University, Sibiu, Romania

Suggested topics:

  • constructing and deconstructing theory
  • world literature and literary theory
  • inscribing and circumscribing literary knowledge
  • traveling concepts and theories
  • metanarratives of canonization
  • location and circulation of theory
  • mapping world theory
  • cultural embeddedness and cosmopolitanism
  • cross-cultural transfers of theory


The Conference is an event of the Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory, with the support of the Faculty of Letters, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Submissions: see here

Registration and fees: see here


A selection of the presented papers will be published in our journal, presently indexed WOS, Erih+, and others, see here. The publication of an edited volume on the topic will also be discussed at the conference.

Important dates:

December 20, 2019 - submission of proposals and panels

December 23, 2019 - acceptance notice

March 9-10, 2020 - conference days

The conference blog is constantly updated with keynote speakers and other information as needed. Please address you questions at

We look forward to reading your proposals!

Contact Info: 

Alex Goldiș, Mihaela Ursa & the editors of the Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory