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Powder Kegs, Iron Curtains, and Velvet Revolutions seminar, Brown University

American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting at Brown University  March 29th to April 1st, 2012: "Collapse/Catastrophe/Change."


Powder Kegs, Iron Curtains, and Velvet Revolutions: Eastern European and Eurasian Literatures and Cultures in Discourse(s) of Crisis

Paper proposals due by November 15 (see details below)
Seminar Organizer(s):
  • Marina Antic (University of Wisconsin – Madison)
The “powder keg” of Europe, defenestration, balkanization, virulent nationalism, revolutions and counterrevolutions, totalitarianism, the Iron Curtain, Fall of the Berlin Wall, the End of History (or its repressive Return), the Transition – these are but a few tropes in the discourse of crisis that has defined Eastern Europe and Eurasia in modern times.
This seminar continues the discussion from previous ACLA meetings on postcoloniality and literatures and cultures of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Prior sessions have examined “old world” empires, the question of Soviet domination, the “othering” of and within Eastern Europe, the postcolonial present and its cultural products, encounters with internal and external others, as well as cultural, literary, and physical crossroads and contact.
This year we invite papers that address figures and tropes of the language of crisis, catastrophe, collapse, (or “transition”) that have defined Eastern Europe and Eurasia for many years.  How does the discourse of crisis (and its famous inversion in “the end of History”) affect the cultures and literatures of Eastern Europe and Eurasia?  How do these literatures participate in such discourses and how do they escape redundancy or incommensurateness?  Does Eastern European experience with discourse of catastrophe (of history) have something to teach us about the current discourse of crisis gripping the Western world? Conversely, is there a space in Eastern Europe and Eurasia for “revolutions” or the discourse of progress, a beyond crisis/catastrophe/collapse? Papers on any aspect of Eastern Europe/Eurasia within the conference theme are also welcome.
Please use the ACLA's website to submit paper proposals.
Go to and choose "Propose a paper or seminar" on the menu to the left. When submitting you will have a chance to choose this seminar as the one your paper is for.