Black Sea as literary and cultural space


Black Sea as literary and cultural space

Peoples and communities 

International conference 

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Sofia 

30 March – 1 April 2020 

Organising institutions: 

Institute for Literature at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Sofia); Chair of Romance Studies of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” (Sofia); Ilia State University (Tbilisi); Aix-Marseille University (Aix-en-Provence, Marseille) ; INaLCO (Paris). 

Deadline for sending paper proposals: 31 October 2019 


It took a long run before comparative literature realised its vocation: emancipation from the national divides. At an early stage, it performed comparisons respecting the constellations constituted by the national literary traditions and kept apart by languages. At a later stage it freed itself from these constraints in order to get interested, rather, in circulation and transfer of forms and ideas across the national and linguistic borders. It is a transnational perspective which can progress by adopting a post-transnational intention supported by a new methodology. 

The concept of ‘literary space’, inspired by the deleuzian idea of deterritorialisation and other works in literary theory, stands out among the conceptual instruments of this renewal. A literary space, mapped at the intersection of geography and history, hosts a plethora of literatures and languages, definable on both regional and national level, and inviting approaches designed to indicate sharing of themes, discourses and forms. The examples of this are given by the Carribean, the Mediterranean and the Balkans, the first two of which have already benefitted from relevant research. 

The Black Sea, and its six littoral states (Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia), its important port cities, its littoral settlements, its multicultural richness and its history going back to Antiquity, offer in an exemplary way the possibility to be studied in this perspective. 

The Black Sea as literary and cultural space supposes an inductive-deductive research: an object is set within a frame(work) in order to be observed during a process which comes to modify the frame(work). The object ‘Black Sea’ is constructed as a literary and cultural space and in turn helps to define the concept. This concept, actually, can be approached from three 

perspectives. The first one considers the concept as a milieu hosting in coexistence different literatures as well as different cultures; the second treats the concept as an interactive space entangling literatures in a way similar to the approaches of Pascale Casanova or Emily Apter; the last accepts the concept as matrix of the imaginary, relying on the géocritique of Bertrand Westphal and the literary geography of Sheila Hones. Combining the perspectives could support the hypothesis of Black Sea as civilisation, not in the classical sense of collective system of values interrelated hierarchically but in the sense of world-system (Wallerstein) held within the frame of the global world-system; and could offer the possibility of tracing manifestations of such civilisation in literary works. A literary and cultural space implies fluctuation between materiality and ideality, history and myth, – which is sustained by the adopted interdisciplinary methodological prism. 

This conference presents itself a second stage of a collective research aimed at studying the Black Sea as literary and cultural space. It is a continuation of the first conference “Black Sea as Literary and Cultural Space” (see the call at : content/uploads/2018/04/Appel-communications-in-EN.pdf), held in Tbilisi on 25-27 October 2018, organised by Ilia State University upon the initiative of Mr. Alexis Nuselovici, Professor at Aix-Marseille University. 

The focus chosen for this second conference is Peoples and Communities and we hope that the paper proposals will address the following subjects: 

I. The image of Black Sea in the cultural and literary construction of national identities 

- Questions of identity 

- Use of heritage, memory, beliefs and religions 

- Phenomena of interculturality 

- Linguistic contacts, circulation of languages, translation 

- Folklore 

II. The emergence of literatures 

- Transmission of the legendary and of Greco-Roman mythology 

- Literary culture from Antiquity till today 

- The first national literatures 

- Postcolonial approaches 

III. The spatialities 

- Black Sea, Europe, Asia 

- Rural and urban society 

- Intermedial approaches to the representation of space 

IV. Cultural semantics of Black Sea 

- Imperial heritage and the renewal of symbolic and affective significations of Black Sea 

- Postcolonial approaches 

As a supplement to the text of the paper proposal, the applicants are expected to indicate which one(s) of these subjects is (are) addressed by his or her proposal. 

Working languages shall be French, English and (under conditions specified below) Bulgarian. 

Each speaker will have 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion. 

All papers presented at the conference shall be eligible for publication depending on peer review. 

Conditions for participation and important dates 

Paper proposals not shorter than 200 and not longer than 300 words, supplemented by title, 3- 5 keywords, reference list of 3-10 titles [publications by the author of the paper proposal should be avoided], and short bio-bibliographical sketch (50 to 100 words, to include position and affiliation/indication of non-affiliation), have to be sent, in attached files in Word format, till 31 October to the following email:

Each proposal will be submitted to two double-blind reviews. Decision for (non)acceptance will be taken by the scholarly committee. 

Authors will be notified about (non)acceptance by 30 November 2019. 

Accepted authors willing to speak in Bulgarian will be expected to send extended summaries of their papers (not shorter than 1000 words) in French or English by 31 January 2020. 

Accepted authors willing to speak in French will be expected to send non-abridged English versions of their paper proposals (abstracts) by 31 January. 

Accepted authors willing to speak in English will be expected to send non-abridged French versions of their paper proposals (abstracts) by 31 January. 

Tentative programme of the conference will be published online by 20 February 2020. 

The amount of participation fee (in case it is decided to require such) will be determined subsequently (not later than on 1 January 2020). 

Scholarly directors 

Alexis Nuselovici, Aix-Marseille University; Mzago Dokhturishvili, Ilia State University; Marie Vrinat-Nikolov, INaLCO; Yordan Lyutskanov, Institute for literature, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Zaal Andronikashvili, Ilia State University and Leibniz Centre for Literary and Cultural Studies (Berlin) 

Organisation committee 

Mzagho Dokhturishvili, Ilia State University; Yordan Lyutskanov, Institute for Literature at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Alexis Nuselovici, Aix-Marseille University; Malinka Velinova, Chair of Romance Studies, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”; Marie Vrinat- Nikolov, INaLCO 

Scholarly committee 

Nino Abakelia, ethnology, Ilia State University; Zaal Andronikashvili, cultural studies, Ilia State University and Leibniz Centre for Literary and Cultural Studies (Berlin); Khatuna Beridze, translation studies, Shota Rustaveli State University of Batumi; Mzago Dokhturishvili, Romance philology, Ilia State University; Inga Ghutidze, linguistics, Ilia State University and State University of Samtskhe-Javakheti, Akhaltsikhe; Adeline Grand-Clément, Greek history, University Toulouse 2 – Jean Jaurès (to be confirmed); Vesela Guenova, French literature and translation studies, Sofia University “Saint Kliment Ohridski”; Gelina Harlaftis, history, Ionian University, Corfu; Marina Kavtaradze, musicology, V. Sarajishvili State Conservatory of Tbilisi ; Amelia Licheva, literary theory, Sofia University “Saint Kliment Ohridski”; Yordan Lyutskanov, comparative literature, Institute for Literature at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Atinati Mamatsashvili, comparative literature, Ilia State University; Alexis Nuselovici, comparative literature, Aix-Marseille University ; Avtandil Okrostsvaridze, geology, Ilia State University; Yaşar Eyüp Özveren, economic history, Professor Emeritus, Middle Eastern Technical University, Ankara; Cleo Protokhristova, comparative literature, Plovdiv University; Bela Tsipuria, comparative literature, Ilia State University; Marie Vrinat-Nikolov, Bulgarian language and literature, literary translation, National Institut for Oriental Languages and Civilisations 

Website of the conference: 

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