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CfP: The City as Palimpsest. Deadline: 15.04.18

Institute of English and American Studies
University of Gdansk, Poland
Polish Society for the Study of European Romanticism

The City as Palimpsest

20-22 September 2018

In the 20th century, cities became specific spaces of culture and "practiced places" that, in Michel de Certeau’s words, function in a "polyvalent unity of conflictual programs or contractual proximities." At the same time, urban studies transformed into a vibrant interdisciplinary field that brought together historians, architects, literary critics, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, cultural geographers and others.

Cities and the urban lifestyle determine the cultural identity of the contemporary world. Mobility, dynamics, and self-fashioning are common features of urban life that are represented in literature,  art, and culture in general. The modes of literary and artistic representation of the city are diverse and focus, among other aspects, on the physical and metaphysical fashioning of urban landscapes, urban language and story-telling, urban memory, urban culture, and urban anthropology. Svetlana Boym claims that places such as cities are contexts for remembrance and debates about the future. The conference we are organizing aims to look at the city through interdisciplinary lenses and analyze it as a literary theme and cultural, historical, political, and social phenomenon. We want to discuss the city as palimpsest and read it in both global and local perspectives. The conference will take place in Gdansk, one of the oldest of Polish cities, and a story in itself. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to, literary and cultural representations of the following:

 -          cityscapes, smells and sounds of the city;
 -          cultural and social identity of the city;
 -          major urban centers of culture in Europe and elsewhere: their past and present; 
 -          cities with more than one name: their changing/continuing identity;
 -          the city as a site of conflict;
 -          the city as a multiethnic and multilingual literary center;
 -          cities in the memory of refugees;
 -          the persistence of urban memory;
 -          memory of/about the city (what cities remember and what we remember about them)
-          nostalgic cities;
 -          cities with exiled populations;
 -          cities with traumatic experience (war, Holocaust, natural disasters, etc.);
 -          urban stories, legends, and myths;
 -          urban tourism in the past and today;
 -          urban commemorative places;
 -          archeology of the metropolis;
 -          urban ceremonies;
 -          city and domesticity;
 -          city vs country;
 -          cities paradigmatic for Polish culture  (here we mean not only cities on the territory of modern Poland but also those that shaped Polish culture and identity in previous centuries. As an exception, for this particular topic abstracts may be submitted either in English or in Polish).  
  • Please send paper proposals (250 words) and a short bio to: cityconference2018@gmail.com by April 15, 2018
  • Notification of acceptance will be sent by May 1, 2018.  
  • The conference fee is PLN 500 (USD 145; EUR 120), PLN 300 (USD 85; EUR 72) for doctoral students and employees of the University of Gdansk 
  • Deadline for registration and payment of the conference fee: July 1, 2018    

Organizing Committee:

Marta Koval, Associate Professor, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Gdansk Jean  Ward, Associate Professor, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Gdansk Marek Wilczynski, Professor, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Gdansk Alicja Chmiolek, PhD student, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Gdansk  

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Marta Koval at martakoval70@gmail.com