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A Sea of Literatures: Theories, Concepts, and Methods of Mediterranean Literary Studies

International Conference at the University of Graz (October 10-12, 2019)

Call for Papers

Organized by Steffen Schneider, Angela Fabris, Albert Göschl

Mediterranean studies are flourishing worldwide and can already boast a fair list of classics, especially in the field of history: The work of Fernand Braudel, of course, is first to be mentioned, along with more recent works such as David Abulafia's The Great Sea or Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell's The Corrupting Sea.

In literary studies, the Mediterranean is discussed in many ways and at very different conceptual levels: as a space in which materials, motifs, and text networks embrace different cultures; as an object of literary representation; as a cultural theory; as an intertextual phenomenon; etc.

What these concepts have in common is that they all cross existing borders: borders between literatures, languages, and cultures as well as borders between nation states and national philologies. The borders are replaced by transnational networks and relationships that can no longer be thought of in terms of traditional categories. What is still missing, therefore, are theoretical and methodological standards and concepts that could enable Mediterranean literary studies to stand as an independent field of research.

The conference takes up initial methodological suggestions that have been made in recent times by various researchers, including the volume by Akbari and Mallette A Sea of Languages whose title it alludes to. However, the emphasis of the conference will lie more on the literary than on the linguistic aspects. Possible questions and topics include: the relationship between Mediterranean studies and postcolonial studies; literature and Mediterranean anthropology; the connections between globalization and regionalization in Mediterranean literature; migration literature; identity and memory; inter- and transculturality of Mediterranean literature; the history of Mediterranean ideas in the course of time; intertextuality and intermediality; translations. All these elements can be analyzed from a contemporary as well as a historical perspective. The aim is to treat both earlier epochs and the present day on an equal footing.

The conference will focus on the literatures of the Romance and Romance-speaking countries. However, contributions from other relevant literatures are also welcome, so that inter- and transcultural relations in the Mediterranean and beyond can be captured.

The papers should be no longer than 25 minutes. Please send your proposals (maximum 500 words) to steffen.schneider(at)uni-graz.at by 31 January 2019. In addition to the presentations, a workshop will take place to discuss and deepen theoretical or methodological aspects.

The conference language is English.


Literature relevant to the themes of the conference include:

  • Abulafia, David: The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean. London 2011.
  • Bernhard, Gerald, Katharina Kraske and David Nelting: Italienische und französische Literaturwissenschaft. Handbuch der Mediterranistik. Systematische Mittelmeerforschung und disziplinäre Zugänge, ed. Mihran Dabag et al., München 2015, 171-177.
  • Baquey, Stéphane: Poésie. Dictionnaire de la Méditerranée, ed. Dionigi Albera, Maryline Crivello, Mohamed Tozy. Arles 2016, 1270-1277.
  • Braudel, Fernand: La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II. 1996.
  • Chambers, Iain: Mediterranean Crossings. Durram 2008.
  • Chambers, Iain: Mediterraneo blues. Musiche, malinconia postcoloniale, pensieri marittimi. Torino 2012.
  • Horden, Peregrine and Nicholas Purcell: The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History, Oxford 2000.
  • Kinoshita, Sharon: Medieval Mediterranean literature. PMLA, 124, 600-608.
  • Kinoshita, Sharon: Mediterranean Literature. A Companion to Mediterranean History , ed. Peregrine Horden and Sharon Kinoshita, Wiley Blackwell 2014, 314-329.
  • Mallette, Karla: Boustrophedon: Towards a Literary Theory of the Mediterranean. A Sea of Languages, ed. Suzanne Akbari and Karla Mallette. Toronto 2013, 254-266.
  • Mallette, Karla: The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250:
  • A Literary History, Philadelphia 2005. Matvejevitch, Predrag: Bréviaire méditerranéen. Paris 1992.
  • Moura, Jean-Marc: Littératures francophones et théorie postcoloniale. Paris 2007.
  • Selden, Daniel L.: Text networks. Ancient Narrative 8 (2009), 1-23.


Information about the University of Graz

The Conference Venue


Information about the city of Graz

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