Centre for Studies in Literature

Imaginary Europes

CSL Annual Symposium 2012

in association with Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Germany, Techniche-Universität Darmstadt, Germany and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Jopi Nyman (University of Eastern Finland)

The symposium entitled “Imaginary Europe” considered literature that constructs imaginary versions of Europe or individual European countries from afar. In the course of the C20th and C21st the idea of Europe has lodged in the imagination of authors across the globe, inspiring some and challenging others. Writers have produced new literary topographies that present Europe beyond the imagery handed down via missionary narratives, travel literature or European classics.

The examination of literary representations of Europe from afar provides a field of study that remains under-explored and significant in its multiplicities of possible critical approaches. In recent criticism approaches have been made to explore the literary representation of migrant experience within Europe, such as Turkish-German, African-Dutch, Franco-Maghreb, Eastern European British, while little attention has been given to constructions of the various imaginary visions of what Europe may be from both within and without.



Themes included:

  • Constructions of imaginary Europes from afar
  • Imagining Europe from the colonies/by a colonised mind
  • Postcolonial perspectives (critiquing Europe as imagined through colonial experience)
  • Narratives of migration (Europe as an El Dorado or refuge dreamed, found or lost; discourses of exile)
  • Imaginings of the ancestral home by second and consequent generations of European migrants
  • Transnational representations of individual European countries from afar

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