Grad Conference 2017

In the Spirit of Nationalism: Reconsidering the Intersections of Nation and Literature
Department of English Tenth Graduate Student Conference
University of Ottawa
17-19 March 2017

Current events, such as Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the Brexit vote, and the international affairs policies instilled by the Republican Party in the US, encourage a reconsideration of the concepts of nation, nationalism, and the nation centre. What has been the role of the nation in shaping cultural identities? What is the current place of the nation in a globalized world? Are nations defined by geographical boundaries? What is the role of literature as it intersects with these matters throughout history?

In Imagined Communities (1983), Benedict Anderson defines nation as “an imagined political community—and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (6), and attributes the rise of nationalism to the imperial expansions of eighteenth-century political regimes (11). Refuting Anderson’s historical analysis, Anthony Smith, in The Ethnic Origins of Nations (1987), claims that “the ‘modern nation’ in practice incorporates several features of pre-modern [myths, memories, values and symbols] and owes much to the general model of ethnicity which has survived in many areas until the dawn of the ‘modern era’” (18, our emphasis). The common ground of these positions remains, of course, the sharing of cultural similitudes, including literary production.

The conference seeks to revive a conversation about the place of the nation, both historically and currently, as well as how this reconsideration shapes our understanding of literature as a historical product of cultural mediation.

We welcome submissions from students, professors and independent scholars in all disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Early formations of the nation
  • Education and the national citizen
  • The (printing) press and national identity
  • (The) Media and national movements
  • Public and the counterpublics
  • Cultural legacies of nationalism
  • The clash of nationalisms
  • War and the development of nationhood
  • Imperialism and isolationism
  • Totalitarianism and propaganda
  • The nationalistic enterprise of the Left
  • The scholar and nationhood
  • Nationalism and globalization
  • The local, the national and the global
  • Multiculturalism and the national
  • The mosaic and national identity
  • The Post-National moment
  • Neo-nationalisms

We encourage irreverent and oppositional perspectives.

Please submit proposals of 300-400 words along with a brief (150 words) bio and an academic CV to by February 10th, 2017. We will notify applicants of our decisions by February 15th, 2017.


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