The idea of transnationalism has had a profound effect on literary studies, challenging the adequacy of the concept of national literatures and opening new perspectives with regards to the ideas of both comparative and world literature. As numerous feminist discussions on globalization and its consequences can show, the idea of transnationalism is neither simple nor unproblematic. Nevertheless, we find it important exactly because of its capacity to problematize all kinds of boundaries, from geographic to symbolic, which, at these times we live in, seems to have become once again a necessity. While economic and social crises seem to be inducing new intolerances, transnational perspectives that this conference promotes emphasizes productive complexities of interactions and cooperation.
This conference is about transnationality, but it is also about women, about Europe and beyond; about theory and the ways we read literature as well as other kinds of texts. The conference is literary and interdisciplinary in the way literary studies in our times have to be interdisciplinary. It speaks about histories, but above all about the times we live in and about the challenges we have to face. Transnational perspectives are particularly productive when we speak about migrant literature, which has such a strong presence in the global literary scene, and which for decades now has exerted such a powerful influence on European cultural production. In the age of intensified migration within and into Europe, literary production of transnational women has become both an enriching and challenging factor in many European national literatures, and an area in which the very concept of identity is being questioned. At the same time, narratives of transnational women writers form a crucial part of understanding key issues about European migrancy and European identity.
We are very fortunate to welcome so many scholars from such diverse backgrounds. Transnational studies is a growing field of research which is well demonstrated by the historical scope and intellectual depth of the papers to be presented at this event. From the 17th century through Modernism to futuristic utopias academics offer insights into ways in which women’s literature in Europe is shaped and transformed by transnationalism. As is evident from the diversity of the panels, this topic is not restricted to issues of language and nationality, but also embraces such varied topics as locationality, genres, literary canons or the environment. Memory, identity, the body and many more themes surface in this conference which, we hope, will eventually enrich our understanding of transnational women’s literature in Europe today.
This conference could not have been organized without the strong institutional backing of the Central European University, and the supportive cooperation of FP7 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship and Akademie Schloss Solitude, for which we are truly grateful. We would also like to offer a special thanks to our key-note speakers and to our guest writers who took the time to come to Budapest and generously share their work with us. Last, but not least, we would like to thank the members of the Scientific Committee for their work on structuring the conference and making it a special event.
We warmly welcome all the participants to the conference – and to the city of Budapest – and we wish you all productive work and a pleasant stay.
Jasmina Lukić and Borbála Faragó