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Readings of Our Own: English Literatures in Other Accents

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Organizer: Davi Pinho

Co-Organizer: Nícea Helena Nogueira

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From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old (...). Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction” (1919;1925) All you need now is to stand at the window and let your rhythmical sense open and shut, open and shut, boldly and freely, until one thing melts in another, until the taxis are dancing with the daffodils, until a whole has been made from all these separate fragments. Virginia Woolf, “A Letter to a Young Poet” (1932) This seminar frames its title with a singular interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929). Woolf’s modernist attempt to traverse historical teleology by fictionalising the ex-centrics of English and Englishness installs the notion that the subaltern will only speak collectively. If her somewhat messianic conclusion is that women must write Judith Shakespeare into existence, the Brazilian coordinators of this seminar invite other English scholars working in non-hegemonic countries to write their own Judiths into life. After all, from postcolonial to decolonial studies, Woolf’s imperative has been updated as other ex-centrics have striven to break other historical, political, ideological and economic borders that demarcate their own existence – be it in literature or as literature. On the one hand, English departments across the globe continue to raise these questions as they study the canon in order to understand the shifting political terrains informing the very notion of canon formation. On the other, as these departments do so, they negotiate their own local positions in relation to the political tensions enacted by the pervasive hegemony of English. Bearing this in mind, this seminar aims at bringing together scholars of English-Language Literatures from around the world. Our aim is to interpret the critical transits that non-hegemonic scholars produce when they read, question and contribute to English literary debates in their own accents – i.e. their contexts, languages and experiences as ‘subaltern’ readers. Taking Woolf’s advice to a young poet as a motto, we aim at looking out the window in order to change what we see, to produce tension and to renegotiate meanings as our emphases (or accents) fall differently and create a whole from and through these differences.  We welcome comparatists who foster literary, political, and/or theoretical dialogues with traditions in English Literatures. The following topics are of particular interest to this seminar: Global Receptions, Translations, Adaptations and Remediations of Virginia Woolf and/or any other English-language Writer by/in/to Other Languages and Contexts; Postcolonial, Decolonial and Contemporary Readings of Virginia Woolf; Contemporary Readings of English Literatures from/in Other Contexts; Comparative Analyses of English and Other Literatures.

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