24 April 2008

CFP - 'Flogging a Dead Horse: Are National Literatures Finished?' (Vicotria U of Wellington, NZ; 11-12 Dec 2008)

‘Flogging a Dead Horse: Are National Literatures Finished?’

Victoria University of Wellington
11 and 12 December, 2008

The Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies and SEFTMS are organising a
conference to be held on 11 and 12 December, 2008, at Victoria University of

Cultural nationalism has been at the centre of literary history in New Zealand, as in
other literatures. In New Zealand the intense period of literary activity of the 1930s
and 40s produced a body of work that sharply influenced thinking about national
identity. The 1890s shaped thinking about the defining characteristics of an
assertively nationalistic Australian literature, while Canada after World War II sought
a cultural identity separate from the overpowering proximity of US nationalism.
These nationalist moments still influence critical discussion and cultural formations
but are now being challenged by alternative nationalisms, the outward gaze of
contemporary writers, the growth of fantasy and other genres, and, above all,
globalism. Questions about the relevance of nationalism in literature are relevant

The keynote speaker will be Professor Leela Gandhi, Department of English,
University of Chicago, who will address the conference title. Professor Gandhi is the
author of Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin de Siecle Radicalism, and
the Politics of Friendship (Duke University Press, 2006) and Postcolonial Theory: A
Critical Introduction (Columbia University Press, 1998). Other speakers will be

Papers are invited a range of topics, including:

• The nation in literature
• The ‘canon’
• Globalism and literature
• Book markets and readerships
• Alternative literary nationalisms
• Contemporary postcolonial and critical theory on the nation
• Culture and literature
• Dispossessed nationalisms
• Fantasy and the nation
• Minority literatures
• Diasporic literatures and nations

Speakers are not restricted to New Zealand topics. Comparative papers are welcome

250 word abstracts should be submitted to Lydia.Wevers@vuw.ac.nz by 1 August, 2008.