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Thinking on and with: Perspectives on Édouard Glissant

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Organizer: David Spitzer

Co-Organizer: Olga Blomgren

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Thinking on and with: Perspectives on Édouard Glissant

“La pensée dessine l’imaginaire du passé: un savoir en devenir. On ne saurait l’arrêter pour l’estimer, ni l’isoler pour l’émettre.” --Édouard Glissant, “Imaginaire,” Poétique de la Relation

From the late 1940s until 2012 the writings of Édouard Glissant span, combine, and challenge several modes—critical writings, poems, lectures, philosophic texts, and beyond. His published work includes fifteen volumes of essays, nine books of poems, eight novels, and a play. Born on the island of Martinique in 1928, Glissant studied and later worked as an editor and taught in France, established institutes in Martinique and in Paris, and during the 1990s held positions in U.S. universities in Louisiana and New York (Britton 2011: 668-69). The formal range and multiple zones of Glissant’s work call for a diversity of perspectives and interpretive approaches. Without bringing-to-a-halt the becoming of thought and the dynamics of its histories, this seminar calls for papers engaged with the various dimensions and forms of Glissant’s thinking in ways that open new horizons and relations. 

“The language of the translator operates like Creolization and like Relation in the world.  That is, its language produces the unforeseeable.  Translation is a veritable operation of Creolization...”--Introduction à une poétique du divers 45-46, translated by Sandra L. Bermann

Some guiding questions for this seminar:  Why and how does Glissant speak to your own literatures and work today?  How does comparative and interdisciplinary study particularly address and engage Glissant’s work?  How might a practice of Glissant’s theories disrupt academia’s departmental silos and institutional strictures [decolonize the university]?

 “when the geography of human thought, desire and creativity escapes the territorial and continental way of thinking and enters the archipelagos, I call it archipelagic thought” --“The Poetics of the World:  Global Thinking and Unforeseeable Events” translated by Kate Cooper Leupin

We aim for collaboration and dialogue by uniting a range of perspectives on Glissant’s work across disciplines and languages.  Abstracts that address/identify problematics, underdeveloped areas, and/or paradox in Glissant’s thinking are encouraged.  This seminar invites archipelagic thought and wide-ranging ways of reading with and through Glissant’s writing and ideas. 

“Totality’s imaginary allows the detours that lead away from anything totalitarian” -- Poetics of Relation 18, translated by Betsy Wing

 Please submit abstracts of 200-300 words via the ACLA submissions portal by 23 September. Please direct any questions to the seminar organizers: Olga Blomgren ( and David Morgan Spitzer (

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