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Island Stories

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Organizer: Nicoletta Pireddu

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Edenic getaways and utopian elsewheres, or dystopian spaces of exile and segregation; marginalized, exploited, self-referential appendages of nations, but also fertile spaces of multicultural exchanges, and microcosms of pluralism; real destinations or existential metaphors… Islands evoke a vast array of topoi, conditions, and ideologies which have been abundantly depicted, shaped, and problematized by literature, cinema, and the visual arts. Furthermore, in the last two decades theory has developed concepts and methodologies to examine islands as a specific area of intellectual inquiry from a literary, cultural, and geopolitical perspectives, starting from the notion of “nissology” that Grant McCall introduced in the 90s. This seminar aims to contribute to the expanding field of island studies, bringing together voices and approaches that engage with the remarkable richness of “island-ness.” How does the aesthetic production of islands in their own terms relate to representation about them? How has discourse used islands as geographic spaces and tropes? Papers will explore islands as critical, ex-centric vantage points from which to engage with (but not exclusively) questions of globalism vs localism; communities and societies; minor and ultra-minor status; liquidity and border studies; the global South; colonialism and post-colonialism; primitivism and exoticism; subalternity vs micro-nationalism;  environmental studies and cli-fi; utopia studies; theories of space and place; autochtony vs. cosmopolitanism and migration; odoeporics and tourism; ethnography; literature of port-cities; Mediterranean and oceanic studies. Comparative theoretical investigations and applied readings are equally welcome, also in view of a future publication (essay collection or special journal issue).

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