Colloque international The Spatial Imagination in Postwar and Contemporary American Literature and Art

Événement passé
21 22 mars 2024

The Spatial Imagination in Postwar and Contemporary  American Literature and Art

A two-day international conference at the University of Strasbourg funded by the Institut Universitaire de France

Dates: 21-22 March 2024

Venue: University of Strasbourg, France

Conference programme: view here

List of hotels: view here

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Dr. Judith Madera (Wake Forest University), who specializes in African American and Caribbean literatures from the eighteenth century to present.

Dawn Raffel is a New York-based writer whose book Boundless as the Sky came out in January 2023.

Seen as an emblematic feature of the United States, American space has been represented, interpreted and questioned along multiple lines. Yet, these lines of critical inquiry often remain separate and discrete, treated from perspectives that do not take into account their interaction. They are also spelt along a particularly white, male trajectory. While it is generally agreed that ‘space’ is a major component of the American imagination, literary representations and artistic practices of space in postwar US have rarely been treated together as intersecting narratives. This conference sets out to consider postwar and contemporary conceptualizations and material practices of space in American literature and art, with the prospect of opening larger and more interdisciplinary vistas. The conference builds on the 2018 conference in Paris on The cartographic imagination. Art, literature and mapping in the United States, 1945-1980.

What are the prevailing and the underrepresented spatial imaginaries in postwar and contemporary America, and how are they represented in literature and art? How do these expressions relate to various Indigenous and colonial traditions of the spatial imagination? How do issues of whiteness, race, and the racial imagination shape spatial practices and imaginaries? What does the dialogue between literary texts, visual studies and art historical practices bring to the understanding of the construction and experience of space in American postwar and contemporary contexts? What are the major paradigms that arise? How do national and transnational, local and global, official and alternative narratives of space intersect in literature and art? How do the contexts of US imperialism and militarization play out in the representation of Cold War and ‘war on terror’ geographies?

Organizers: Sandrine Baudry (University of Strasbourg), Chloé Bour-Lang (University of Strasbourg), Gwen Cressman (University of Strasbourg), Catherine Gander (Maynooth University), Hélène Ibata (University of Strasbourg), Monica Manolescu (University of Strasbourg/Institut Universitaire de France), Will Norman (University of Kent).


Selective bibliography

Alworth, David, Site Reading. Fiction, Art, Social Form, Princeton UP, 2015.

Baudry, Sandrine, Hélène Ibata and Monica Manolescu (eds.), Landscapes and Aesthetic Spatialities in the Anthropocene, RANAM. Recherches anglaises et nord-américaines, 54/2021.

Dear, Michael et al. (eds.), GeoHumanities. Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place, Routledge, 2011.

Gander, Catherine and Sarah Garland (eds.), Mixed Messages. American Correspondences in Visual and Formal Practices, Manchester UP, 2016.

Goeman, Mishuana, Mark My Words. Native Women Mapping Our Nation, University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

Madera, Judith, Black Atlas. Geography and Flow in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Duke University Press, 2015.

Manolescu, Monica, Cartographies of New York and Other Postwar American Cities. Art, Literature and Urban Spaces, Palgrave, 2018.

Manolescu, Monica and Will Norman (eds.), The Cartographic Imagination. Art, Literature and Mapping in Postwar America, European Journal of American Culture 39.1, 2020.

Manzanas, Ana Maria and Jesus Benito, Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture. Static Heroes, Social Movements and Empowerment, Routledge, 2016.

McKittrick, Katherine and Clyde Woods (eds.), Black Geographies and the Politics of Place, Between the Lines, 2007.

McNamara, Kevin R., Urban Verbs. Arts and Discourses of American Cities, Stanford

University Press, 1996.

Shaw, Lytle, Fieldworks. From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics, Alabama University Press, 2012.

Tally Jr., Robert T., Topophrenia: Place, Narrative and the Spatial Imagination, Indiana University Press, 2018.