Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Richard Ambrosini

Università Roma Tre

"The Beauty of Mankind": Versions of Weltliteratur in Joseph Conrad and Derek Walcott

The noun 'literature' should be handled with great care, when used in conjunction with adjectives such as 'Comparative' and 'World.' The multiplication of contexts almost inevitably ends up overshadowing the aesthetic and epistemological potentials of literary artifacts. As disciplinary markers, however, 'Comparative' and 'World' suggest paths of discovery and rediscovery of those artifacts, especially when they are the product of particularly ambitious and original artistic projects, such as Joseph Conrad's and Derek Walcott's. In my paper I intend to reframe as strategies of inclusiveness and broadened community boundaries certain particular aesthetic patterns we can find in their opuses.

Conrad was an English writer, but through his incessant manipulations of the forms, themes and genre conventions specific to the English novel he made himself into a transnational novelist.

Walcott refused to emigrate to the former colonial metropolis and instead made the literature of the world migrate into the world of the Caribbean. Such a pattern could not but end - as Goethe had predicted - with Omeros, a reinvention of the Odyssey that allowed him to conflate many personal and collective wounds he was heir to into an epic form.

Daniele Conversi

Universidad del País Vasco

European inclusivity in the Anthropocene: can the European social model still provide the solution?

The European social model is the welfare framework adopted by most European countries and it largely overlaps with the welfare state as we know it. This model has been challenged by neoliberal globalisation with its unprecedented pressure to cut down public services and privatise vast areas of public spending. However, it has been sternly resisted and opposition has resulted in massive protests throughout Europe. Such opposition has taken various forms, including nationalism and populism. My argument is twofold : I first argue that the strength of this model resides in its inclusivity. Even though such inclusivity has been challenged by mass migration, it remains at the core in the hearts and minds of most European citizens. Those political forces who have focused on migration as a threat to the European social model tended to vote for populist and nationalist parties, which, in turn, increasingly adopt anti-European agendas in line with their national-territorial aspirations and visions of ethnocultural homogeneity. This in turn has means that the inclusive European agenda has been nearly totally abandoned in favour of homeland sons-of-the-soil politics. On the other hand, those who have focused on globalisation as a threat adopted more inclusive policies and agendas, being more keen to work within a European framework, which remains more inclusive than most alternative projects. Secondly, we can anticipate a radical problem in the not too distant future: beside entering a historical stage of rapid social, economic, cultural and political change, we are at the dawning of an entire new geological epoch identified by geologists, physicists, biologists, chemists and other scientists as the Anthropocene. This entails a radical re-envisioning of all the key elements which form the basis of both the modern nation-state and the European project. It is unclear that the European social model can resist this second wave of massive change. Starting from the groundbreaking work of the Indian novelist Amitav Gosh, I will venture to speculate on whether European inclusiveness can survive the destruction caused by the massive preponderance of neoliberal ideology.

Fatima El-Tayeb

Yale University

Diasporic Blackness and People Of Color Formations: A View from (De)colonial Europe

This talk explores how a decolonial approach to European racial formations, as exemplified in feminist and queer of color activism, can not only help uncover the deep roots of the recent rise of racist movements across the continent, but also offer new perspectives on potential coalitions between communities subsumed under the increasingly controversial notion of "people of color."

Focusing on the positionality of Europeans of African descent between the legacies of colonialism, labor migration and racial slavery, I push the limits of US-centric theorizations of the African Diaspora towards a model inclusive of marginalized Black experiences.

Rahilya Geybullayeva

Baku Slavic University

Literature between Irredenta and Inclusiveness: From the Medieval and Ancient Perspectives - politics, history, literary interpretation, medievality, antiquity

This lecture considers the contemporary trends of compartmentalization in societies through the prism of a post-Soviet person who has been swept along by the parade of sovereignties and wars. People always have something in common: cultural history, ancestries, territories. One of the stated causes of contemporary wars is which race is incoming and which is autochthonous (if there even is such a thing as a pure race or ethnos). In other words, it is a matter of dividing the past, dividing history. In this context the question arises - which past? The near or more ancient? This research proposes to examine the problem of the contemporary interpretation of "a native race/ethnos" of the "starting point of nationality" in the mirror in the ancient and medieval European epics, and puts forward two aspects of national identification history through literary texts: biometric (ethnos according to bloodline) and social history. We are discussing theoretical platform of criteria of the national past as "past inclusions and present exclusions" in literature, in order to take one more step towards mutual understanding and discuss the cultural heritage of the past peacefully.

Loredana Polezzi

Stony Brook University

Threads, Traces and Hospitable Places: Rethinking Translation as Narrative Co-Presence

Translation can function both as a mechanism of inclusion and of exclusion. Understood as a practice of substitution between self-contained 'mother tongues', it can reinforce the image of homogeneous linguistic communities and, by extension, act as a proxy for exclusionary gestures which affect our individual sense of belonging as well as public discourses on mobility and official regimes of citizenship. Yet other, more inclusive models of translation are possible - and they often emerge in the narratives and visual production of artists who identify with experiences of mobility and migration. In this talk, I will use a small number of examples taken from the contemporary landscape of transnational Italian cultures to explore the reconceptualization of translation not as an act of appropriation, substitution and erasure, but as a polyphonic form of narrative continuity and co-presence. In these forms of 'hospitable' translation, the multiplicity of languages and modes of expression is used to trace geographic, cultural and social mobility, while also ensuring the transmission of its memory through time and across generational networks.