In its recent past, Europe has encountered economic depressions, climate change, military interventions, terrorist attacks and the dual rise of aggressive nationalism and the fear of the loss of national identity and autonomy. These times reveal the presence of collective fears concerning economic, political, environmental, and security issues. Simultaneously, in their everyday lives, people deal with a sense of fear that arises on a more individual level: they fear for their own financial future, perhaps for their threatened cultural, gender or sexual identities, and possibly even for their physical safety. In view of this, it is pertinent to ask whether there is a contemporary European mind-set that is obsessed with the idea of safety. By virtue of its etymology, the notion of safety has been associated with salvation and redemption. Such connotations, however, seem to have receded in secular, liberal-capitalist society and have been replaced by the far more protective and restrictive idea of security. How are safe – or secure – environments and societies being imagined and idealised in Europe, and have such imaginings changed over the decades and centuries?
This conference calls for contributions dealing with the issues of fear and safety in European literature. Paper topics might include contemporary realist narratives of migration, or the apocalyptic and dystopian narratives currently permeating the entire cultural landscape. Papers on transnational and multicultural issues are welcomed, as are papers focusing on the genre-specific problematics of approaching the themes of fear and safety (e.g. fantasy, thrillers, speculative fiction, children’s literature, literature for young adults). Recent trends in research, such as affect and risk theory, are also pertinent. How do literary presentations create and shape the social, “public”, and possibly collective emotions that frame our experience? How do such representations, usually far more accessible to the public than scientific information, influence the real‑life evaluation and selection of risks? What kinds of textual strategies and ways of story-telling are being used to express the affectivities of fear and safety? How are increasingly popular adaptations and multimodal works of art connected to contemporary notions of fear and safety in their ways of (re)telling (past) stories?
In addition, we invite contributions about the representations of European territories of the Arctic: the entire world has become increasingly fascinated with the northern parts of the planet. Security in the Arctic is not threatened by the presence of armed forces or nationalistic movements; rather, the strains on the environment caused by climate change and increased human activity are raising fears on a global scale.
Notions of fear and safety therefore lend themselves to comparative exploration through different disciplines, such as Geocriticism, Diaspora Studies, Migration Studies, Myth and Folklore Criticism, (Post‑) Colonial Studies; Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, LGBT Studies, Ecocriticism, Posthumanism, New Materialisms, Risk Theory, Adaptation Studies, Intermedial Studies, Children’s Literature, Literature and Science, Literature and Psychology, Literature and Philosophy, Narratology, Ethics in/and Literature, Affects in/and Literature, Cultural Studies, Scandinavian Studies, and Arctic Studies.
You are welcome to submit your proposals in English or French or in the languages of Finland: Finnish, Swedish or Sami. We welcome proposals for individual papers and for thematic panels.
Please see attachments for the full call for papers both in English and French.