2019 Conference

“Crisis and Community”
2019 Meeting of the Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts
October 31-November 2
Sheraton Atlanta Hotel
Atlanta, GA

Crisis and Community

We are social animals. Forming communities, moreover, is a natural instinct. Yet today, across the globe and nearer to home, it has been said that the bonds of community are fraying, and that antagonisms and antipathies have infiltrated the neighborly precincts of community. Some now consider our communities to be in a state of outright crisis. Others, however, argue that protest, dissent, and dissensus are vital for communities and challenge the placid assumption that members of a community are supposed to be docile, uncontentious denizens of a tranquil, and tranquillized society. Scholars of literature, comparative literature, and the arts have a unique view of these matters – many, indeed, consider their contribution to scholarship to be a form of activism and a political or ethical intervention. Literature and the arts have always registered the tensions and fractures in society, probed our bonds and allegiances, and explored how we make and un-make communities.

The Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts asks what literature can tell us about community. What is our community, and at what scale do we wish to imagine it – global, national, or local? Are we truly in crisis, or have we always had such fractures in our societies? What contributions do literature and the arts make to communities, and what clarifications can we, as a society of comparative literature and the arts, offer about what community means? It may well be that if the humanities, literature, and the arts are to defend their relevance, they must assert their importance to the major issues of our time and moreover our history. At its core, such issues come down to how we live, and fail to live, together.

The conference will be held from October 31st 2019 to November 2nd 2019 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in downtown Atlanta, GA. Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to 2019scla@gmail.com by July 1st 2019. We also welcome proposals for panels, either single-session or multi-session. The SCLA is pleased to make available a limited number of travel stipends to graduate students, independent scholars, and adjunct faculty: if you wish to be considered for a stipend, we ask you to make such an indication in your paper proposal.

The Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts invites proposals on topics that might include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Community: including and excluding the ‘other’
  • Narratives of exile
  • The ontology of the expatriate
  • The ‘neighbor’ in literature and theory
  • Feasts and the literature of food
  • Representing the border: walls, checkpoints, and watch lists
  • The scapegoat
  • Images of surveillance
  • Living in religious and secular communities
  • Immigration and migration
  • Art and literature as resistance
  • Narratives of democracy and communism
  • Translation and community mediation
  • Glissant and the poetics of relation
  • Derrida and the politics of friendship
  • Rancière’s politics of dissensus
  • Queer communities
  • Micro and macro communities: from the doorstep to the planet
  • Utopias and dystopias
  • “Passing,” assimilation, fitting in, code-switching, and naturalization
  • Ecocritical approaches to community
  • Witnessing violence
  • Truth and reconciliation commissions
  • Pardon, confession, and amnesty
  • The artists’ commune


Email: 2019scla@gmail.com
Panel and paper proposals related to the conference theme are especially encouraged, but all topics are welcome. Please submit panel proposals (500 words) and individual abstracts (250 words) by July 1, 2019. Please include in the body of the email your name, academic affiliation, status (faculty, grad student, etc.), and mailing address. For panel proposals, include the names, addresses, and affiliations for all participants.
Graduate students submitting a paper proposal may be eligible for an SCLA travel scholarship.


Before September 15, the pre-registration fee is $120 for faculty, $65 for graduate students, $35 for undergraduates. After September 15, the fee is $130 for faculty, $75 for graduate students, and $40 for undergraduates; on-site registration will be available at these increased rates, payable with a credit card. In addition to the registration fees, you must be a member of SCLA. Registration and/or membership fees should be made using these secure links:


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