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Pacific Gateways: The Rise of Transpacific Literature in English, 17601900 (Ito International Research Center, University of Tokyo, Japan: 24-25 November 2017 )

Deadline: 5 May 2017

Plenary speakers: Nikki Hessell (Victoria University of Wellington); Julia Kuehn (University of Hong Kong)

Organizing committee: Laurence Williams (University of Tokyo); Stephen Clark (University of Tokyo);

Tristanne Connolly (St Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo); Alex Watson (Nagoya University)

This international conference will explore the entanglements of English literature (including travel writing, novels, journalism, and poetry) with Pacific geographies and cultures in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The concept of the "transatlantic" has become familiar in Anglo-American literary studies, but it is only in recent years that the counterbalancing notion of the "transpacific" has received sustained scholarly attention, driven in part by the growing global economic importance of the Asia-Pacific region.

The conference will focus, in particular, upon the "gateways" to the Pacific offered to English travellers and traders by the ports along its rim. These include the major centres of local commerce (Osaka, Hangzhou, Shanghai); long-established European colonies (Batavia, Macau); ports opened by imperial coercion in the nineteenth century (Hong Kong, Yokohama); and newer communities created by expanding colonial empires (San Francisco, Wellington, Vladivostok, Vancouver). These ports become hubs for the exchange not just of people and tradeable goods but also intellectual and imaginative developments. They act as national and imperial nerve-centres, kernels of settlement, sites of intercultural interaction, and even hot-beds of anti-imperial resistance. By bringing cultures together in highly local and specific ways, often in different relations of power, these sites generate hybrid languages and literary forms which, because of their position on the hubs of global circulation, become swiftly exported and adapted. In addition, they become important objects of artistic and literary representation in their own right, often tending to dominate the European history of representation of Asia.

We will ask how these Pacific gateways shape the development of a "transpacific consciousness" in Anglophone literature, whose modes of exchange and patterns of thought can still be seen in modern-day attitudes to the region. Drawing on our location in Tokyo, we will explore the triangulations between Japan, the West, and other Pacific cultures created by the "opening" of the country to trade in the 1850s and the resulting transmission of travel accounts and "japonaiserie" back to Europe. We also welcome papers which focus on other cultures and regions or explore broader transpacific flows. We will aim to replace older models of "East" meeting "West" with a more polyglot and cross-cultural history of Anglophone literature in the Pacific, in which the networks and communities established by Anglo-American imperialism coexist with established intra-Asian networks.

Topics include: English travel writing, novels, journalism, and poetry about Pacific cultures (including China, Japan, Korea, south-east Asia, and Australasia) The critical vocabulary of "gateways", "hubs", "portals", and "networks", and their use as an alternative (or complement) to models stressing imposition / domination The motif of the "gateway" or "entry point" in literature (e.g. the "arrival scene" in travel writing) Cosmopolitan "openness" and imperial "openings" Expatriate and colonial communities in Pacific ports, and their interactions with indigenous cultures Imaginative circulation and the development of a "transpacific consciousness" Linguistic and generic cross-overs between English and Asia-Pacific languages New theoretical models of transculturation, the "contact zone", or the "centre of accumulation" The use of textual "gateways" (titles, introductions, prefaces, chapter-headings, dedications, epigrams, opening sentences and chapters) to frame narrative encounters with the Pacific Anglo-American imperialism and its interaction with rival imperial cultures Literary explorations of Pacific distance and emptiness The persistence of 19th-century networks in the present day, in the context of actor-network or globalisation theory.

Please send proposals (250 - 350 words) in .doc or .docx format, including your name and institution (if applicable).

We plan to publish an edited collection of essays based on the event.

Contact details:
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Filed under: Call for Papers - Conferences

Last updated: 21 Mar 2017



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