Hermes Summerschool: Literature and Intervention

HERMES seminar 2012
Literature and Intervention: The Relevance of Literature in a Changing World

Amsterdam, June 11-15, 2012
Annual International Post-Graduate Seminar in collaboration with the HERMES Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies.

Key note speaker:

Over the last decades, the study of literature has changed drastically. These changes are the result of (inter)disciplinary developments as well as the consequence of societal changes.

The increasing interdisciplinarity of literary studies, to begin with, has brought literary scholars into an intense discussion with philosophy, aesthetic theory, cultural sociology, political theory, popular culture studies, et cetera. As a result, literary scholars of today study a wide variety of cultural phenomena.

Furthermore, literary theorists and sociologists have charted a number of socio-cultural developments that have had quite an impact on the work of writers, readers and literary professionals. One can think of the diversification of culture (high vs. low, new media, ethnicity…), the increase in cultural production, the loss of humanist ideals, the growing dominance of information technologies, the (assumed) vanishing of print culture, and so on. Literary culture, in other words, is changing rapidly and drastically.

These (and other) academic and socio-cultural transformations seem to undermine, or at least transform, the ways in which researchers used to think of literature and literary culture. The paradox is that they, by doing so, contribute to the renewed topicality of very basic, but crucial questions, such as: What is literature? What is literary experience? How is literature perceived, discussed, viewed, structured? Where, how and why do people have an interest in literature? How is literature transformed by the changing society of today, and how can literature transform society? The impact and relevance of literature and literary studies, in other words, are on the agenda again.

The Hermes 2012 seminar invites participants to reflect on the impact of and interventions by literature – from any historical era – in the context of the cultural and political transformations of our time. Participants are encouraged to address these issues by exploring notions as literary impact and literary intervention from a wide variety of approaches. Issues to be discussed might include, but are not restricted to:

  • Ethical, political, public interventions by literary authors
  • Literature and commitment
  • Relevance of analyzing author X in historical era Y
  • Responsibility and literary research
  • Impact of literature in the public sphere
  • Beyond postmodern relativism?
  • Didactic or therapeutic aspects of literature
  • Specific relevance (or lack thereof) of particular genres, discourses, and media
  • Diachronic perspectives on the relevance of literature

Call for Papers

If you are interested in participating, please send a proposal for a paper of max. 300 words and a biographical note of max 150 words, to the OSL office at before March16th 2012. Note: the HERMES seminar is open to PhD students associated with one of the participating research schools and universities.

The Hermes Consortium is a collaboration of:

  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities at University College London
  • Giessener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften of the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
  • Faculty of Humanities at Aarhus University
  • Faculty of Arts at the University of Leuven University
  • Centro de Estudos Comparatistas (Faculdade de Letras) at the University of Lisbon
  • Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
  • The Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies
  • Stanford University
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Bologna

 More information:

Dr. Gaston Franssen (staff member OSL)
Dr. Eloe Kingma (managing director OSL)
Prof. dr. Thomas Vaessens (academic director OSL)