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Transcultural Perspectives in Language, Literature and Culture in the 21st century


Conference venue: Le Mans University, France
Period: May 19-20, 2022
Deadline for submitting full papers: 15 November, 2021

Description of the Event

The concept of transculturality, which has greatly evolved since its coinage by Fernando Ortiz in 1940, and its theorization by Wolfgang Welsch, and by Mikhail Epsteinin the late 1990s,has been gaining ground as a new field of study in the humanities and social sciences. It has allowed  for  a  fresh  rethink  of  the  idea  of  cultural  globalization  less  from  the  angle  of standardization  but  in  terms  of  multiple  intersections  and  an  exponential  development  of diversities. “The “transcultural era is upon us,” Richard Slimbach proclaimed in 2005, and traced “transculturalism” as “the quest to define shared interests and common values across cultural and national borders.”Transculturality involves the deconstruction of concepts such as “society,” “class,” “nation,” “culture,” or “civilization” and  the  analysis  of  phenomena from various  angles  insisting  “on  the  multipolarity,  multiple  perspectives,  and  transformative dynamics inherent to the research subject” (König, and Rakow).

Centers for Transcultural Studies have been created internationally, and in particular in Europe  and  the  US,  such  as  at  the  University  of  Heidelberg,  Lancaster  University,  the University of Jean Moulin 3 in Lyon, or the University of Pennsylvania, each having a special focus or/and offering degrees. The Transcultural Studies Track is offered as an option in BA programs (e.g. American University in Washington) while the University of Michigan offers an accelerated MA program in Transcultural Studies. Obviously, there has been a transcultural rush  which  can  make  us  wonder  how  the  transcultural  perspective  has  been  transforming anglophone  studies,  and  in  particular  American  studies  as  the  transcultural  outlook  has  been eagerly adopted not only in the study of literature but also in linguistics and translation studies.

The works of writers in exile, im(migrants), colonized or from mixed unions have often represented in their relation to language this phenomenon of moving from one linguistic and cultural  period  to  another;  this  shift  was  conducive  to  a  singular  language,  specific  to  each author. Can we then talk of a transcultural literature or are the linguistic recreation processes too  personal  to  be  approached  from  this  angle?How  can  their  specificity  fit  into  cultural studies?Doesn’t it immediately challenge patterns of thought? If Steven G. Kellman theorized literary translingualism, “the phenomenon of writers who create texts in more than one language or in a language other than their primary one,” the shift of focus to culture brought forth the theorization of transculturality in literary studies. While Ariana Dagnino’s study of transcultural writers, in Transculural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility, seems to be based on  a  sort  of  individual  elitism, Elke  Sturm-Trigonakis  finally uses  the  term  of  transcultural literature for “hybrid texts” of “minorities literatures” within a new frame of reference, namely New  World  Literature  (NWL).  Should  im(migrant)  literature  also  be  addressed  under  a transcultural perspective? What are the processes that lead from a multicultural perspective to a transcultural one? And should transcultural literature be studied within the frame of NWL, “a separate subsystem within the superordinate literary system, Literatures of the World”? What are the characteristics of transcultural literature? To what extent should it be differentiated from the translingual literature? What is the impact of translingual/transcultural literature on society? Does the “postmonolingual condition” (Yildiz), with its emphasis on the  creative  interaction between  languages,  and  transcultural  literature  involve  a  clean  break  from  the  paradigmatic dichotomies of the North and the South,” “the West and the rest” or “the colonized and the colonizers”? What theoretical framework does theteaching  of  transcultural  literature  make necessary? Not only in literary studies but also in translation studies the transcultural turn seems to be  the  successor  of  the  cultural  turn  that  gained  recognition  in  the  1990s  and  raises  several questions,   and   in   particular   the   transcultural   expertise   of   a   translator.   In   linguistics, transculturality was adopted and a transcultural communication perspective was associated with English as a lingual franca (ELF) research. Moreover, transcultural communication, as noted by  Andeas  Hepp,  “is   part   of   a   continuing   academic   discussion   of   globalization   and mediatization.  We  could  also  address  such  issues  as  the  role  of  linguistics  in  the  study  of transcultural communication.

Eligible topics for the conference

This  two-day  conference,  which  explores  transculturality  with  a  special  focus  on  the US, in two languages, English and French, invites papers on topics relatedbut not limitedto:

  • Genealogies of transculturality and Transcultural Studies
  • Transculturality and transnationalism
  • Transcultural theory
  • Translingual/transcultural literature
  • Transcultural literature and book industry
  • Transculturality and translation
  • Transcultural communication

Guidelines for submission

We accept proposals for panels (3-4 speakers) or individual 20-min papers. 300-word  abstracts,  accompanied by a  100-word  biographical  note,shouldbe  sent as  email attachments to

Aristi Trendel:
Indra Karapetjana
François Thirion

All the papers with positive reviews will be published in the conference proceedings.
Abstract submissions deadline: 15 November, 2021

Notification of abstract acceptance: by 17 December, 2021


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