Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Symposium

Yaşar University, Department of English Language and Literature


coverIs all that is left of the nation a set of remnants to be mourned, or is mourning over remains precisely a sign of our captivation by the form of the nation?  Posing the question of the remnants of the nation within the field of literary and cultural studies in 2014, this conference aims to raise a number of contemporary—or contemporarily exacerbated—problems of national form, and it intends to do so from a comparative perspective. Has the notion of the “imagined community,” described by Benedict Anderson in 1983 as having “finite, if elastic, boundaries,” become antiquated in an era of accelerated globalization?  In short, are we living in a world which can be described, at least to some extent, as “post-national”?  If so, what significance is to be given to the remnants of national form that undoubtedly linger on as ideological ghosts or corpses, even, subject to  reactive—and reactionary—fantasies of resurrection? Other accounts of national remains, however, would suggest that, far from being symptomatic of a securely post-national state, they have in fact always played a constitutive, if paradoxical, role in relation to the national.  We might think of Ernest Gellner’s evocation of the “cultural shreds and patches used by nationalism.”  In this sense, the remnant demands to be understood in a dynamic relation to the cultural “whole” dreamed of by nationalists.  National culture has, indeed, often attributed a sanctified status to the idea of remains, especially as associated with sacrifice, martyrology, and the consecration of memory. If the cloak of nationhood as imagined by Gellner is one pieced together through patchwork, and if the nation thus depends on its constitutive fragments, may the notion of “remnants” not also evoke that which is left over from or surplus to an act of fabrication—a stitching together, even—which aims at an ideal of national form which can never be fully completed or consolidated?  At what point does the remnant escape, or even militate against, the logic of integration and cultural totality?  How do remnants become available as material for counter-narratives, whether these take the form of insurgent rival national identities or rivals to nationalism as the dominant paradigm of cultural identity, including forms of migrant and minority culture as well as regionalisms and localisms?  Are such alternative cultural formations destined in turn to disavow the fragment, to conjure up new visions of wholeness? Like Homi Bhabha, who has also evoked the “shreds and patches of cultural signification,” this conference intends, then, to revisit the remnants, scraps, memories and ghosts of the nation from the perspective of margins, migrants and “minorities,” and one way in which we wish to free the remnant from its assumed dependency on totalizing versions of national culture is to insist on reading these narratives—or archives—of national margins in relation to each other, within a comparative and relational rather than particularizing and minoritizing perspective.


DEADLINE EXTENSION: The deadline for proposals has been extended. The deadline is July 31, 2014.