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The Fourteenth Triennial Conference of the British Comparative Literature Association will be held at the City Campus South of the University of Wolverhampton between midday on Tuesday 12 July and midday on Friday 15 July, 2016. The conference will be hosted by the University’s Faculty of Arts, the Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research and the Research in Cultures and Humanities forum.
The university’s city-centre campus is the geographical hub of an educational institution dating back to the nineteenth century. The Millennium City of Wolverhampton is situated in the West Midlands, the former industrial heartland of the UK and consequently a region that is no stranger to salvage in a variety of guises. Wolverhampton enjoys excellent transport links with Birmingham, Manchester and London and their respective airports, as well as other parts of the UK. It is also within easy reach of important cultural heritage sites such as Ironbridge, birthplace of the industrial revolution; Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare and now a living heritage centre; and Lichfield, birthplace of Samuel Johnson, and where Erasmus Darwin lived and laboured in the shadow of the city’s imposing cathedral.
The theme of the conference is ‘Salvage’, a concept that at first sight may appear to have only a tenuous connection with literature but that, on closer inspection, reveals itself to be at the very heart of much literary and cultural activity: ‘J’ai pétri de la boue et j’en ai fait de l’or’ wrote Baudelaire, referring to a Paris transformed – from mud to gold, he claimed ‒ and consecrated in his work. Translation, reception, re-reading – the vital substance of comparative literary research – all refer to processes by which literature’s significance is activated or released in acts of salvage: transmission, transformation, transposition. The etymological origins of salvage are, indeed, to be found in terms for saving and, moreover, salvation.
Plenary speakers at the conference will include Professor (Emeritus) David Constantine, Professor Susan Jones (Oxford), and Professor Dámaso López Garcia (Universidad Complutense Madrid). Professor (Emeritus) Holger Klein will deliver the Shakespeare Anniversary Lecture.
2016: Year of anniversaries
The year 2016 will see a number of anniversaries from the domain of literary and cultural studies within the European sphere alone. Most notably, the year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of both Miguel de Cervantes (whose remains were recently believed to have been discovered in Madrid) and William Shakespeare. This double anniversary, we envisage, will form a thematic strand running in parallel to the main conference theme.
The year also marks the centenary of the publication of Ferdinand de Saussure’s Cours de lingüistique générale, a work which influenced profoundly not only linguistic but also literary and cultural theory in the twentieth century, particularly when Structuralism held sway. Historical events that triggered literary responses also have anniversaries this year. 2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, which paved the way to Irish independence, and the eightieth anniversary – to the month – of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. This list is far from exhaustive. Paper and panel proposers are invited to consider incorporating these and other anniversaries into their abstracts where relevant.
Call for papers and panels
Please visit the call for panels and papers page for more information.
A provisional programme, including cultural and social events, will be published following review of paper and panel proposals early in 2016.
Information regarding university and hotel accommodation options will be published in due course, as will details of and links to travel information including maps.