Conference: „Crisis and Beyond – The Literatures of Canada and Quebec“

Part 1: 30 September – 3 October 2015, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Part 2: September 2016, The Banff Centre, Canada

Organizers: Ursula Moser and Marie Carrière

In the midst of global violence, unrest, and environmental disaster, a sense of crisis encapsulates us. According to Slavoj Žižek in Living in the End Times (2010), “the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero point,” comprised of “the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself (problems with intellectual property; forthcoming struggles over raw materials, food and water), and the explosive growth of social divisions and exclusions.” On the other hand, recent theorizations in the field of affect studies, such as Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism (2011), prompt us not only to rethink our attachments to previously held notions of the good life – attachments that have led to our contemporary crises – but to articulate new modes of being or becoming. Writers in turn intervene in ways of thinking about and relating to a time of crisis. In the post-9/11 backdrop of the critical essays of L’horizon du fragment (2004) Nicole Brossard articulates her “desire to take up again the senseless quest for meaning and beauty”while other writers rely on derision, humor, and irony to show ways and means of “how to succeed in one’s hypermodernity and save the rest of one’s life” (see Nicolas Langelier, 2010; Nicolas Dickner, 2009).

Organized by the Canadian Studies Centre (CSC) at the University of Innsbruck and the Canadian Literature Centre (CLC) at the University of Alberta, this two-part bilingual (English-French) conference seeks to explore how crisis directs or transforms First Nations, Québécois, and Canadian writings in English and French, and how authors and intellectuals endeavour to counterbalance the social, economic, and ideological insecurities we live in. Are there identifiable thematic or stylistic characteristics that mark a literature of crisis, in crisis, and leading beyond it? We seek to understand how writing deals – on either an aesthetic, a thematic, a political, or a personal plane – with global disorder and which strategies it employs to stand up against the hauntings of planetary death, ideological and epistemological collapse, financial breakdown, the contemporary legacies of history, environmental disaster, or the electronic age. How can crisis merge, through writing, with deliberate mobilization, political resistance, radical transgression, and agency towards social change and transformation? Can irony – or even humor – counterbalance disaster and give humanity new hope?


In order to register for the conference please follow this link and fill in the registration form on the homepage. Please send the registration form to Katharina Pöllmann or Janine Köppen The registration fee is 60 € (30 € for students)

Please visit the homepage for further information.


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