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cultural icons

  • CFP: Transcultural Icons of East Central Europe

    CFP World Literature Studies

    “Transcultural Icons of East Central Europe” – a special issue of World Literature Studies (a peer-reviewed journal published by the Slovak Academy of Sciences)[i], with guest editors Matteo Colombi, Christine Gölz, Beáta Hock, and Stephan Krause

    To date, “cultural icons” have frequently been understood as representations of collective identities that tend to reify, first and foremost, discourses around national self-perception and belonging. The interdisciplinary concept of cultural icons is borrowed from (cultural) semiotics, more particularly, from North American cultural studies, where the concept has also been theorized and heuristically tested.[ii] It is usually the protagonists of national history, the fictional or fictionalized heroes and heroines of national literature or films with relevance for the politics of memory, or the protagonists of narrative genres in audiovisual and digital media that are captured by the term and whose capacity to shape identities is thus foregrounded. Alongside such figures are places and their narratives, as well as particular objects of material culture, which may also stand in for a nation and become interpreted—in academic discourses and beyond—as cultural icons.

    Our Call for Papers, however, solicits case studies for which these sorts of “national” cultural icons offer merely one possible starting point. The editors are interested in nationally canonized “icons” for the degree to which these icons also develop transcultural trajectories, or in other words, whether these icons leave their historical, sociocultural, and genre contexts of origin and witness an afterlife in fictional literature and other narrative media (such as film, graphic novels, theater, opera, radio dramas, urban legends, lyrics, etc.). This “flux/mobility” and “afterlife” may very well drift beyond original national lodgings, provided such an “origin” ever really existed. Last but not least, we also want to inquire into the untold stories of officialy sanctioned icons, ones that circulate in the counter- or subcultural practices of the respective national contexts.

    Our special issue has taken the historical region of East Central Europe as its geographical focus. Due to East Central Europe’s multilingual character, its many zones of ethnic interference, and its history of diverse and often conflict-ridden exchanges between nations and cultures that extend beyond political borders, this region lends itself particularly well to the kind of investigation we seek. These structural characteristics/conditions also have a heavy impact—and this is our working hypothesis—on the emergence, perpetuation, and transposition of cultural icons, which hold identification potential for both smaller and larger communities. For this special issue we therefore solicit articles with a focus on icons that are of narrative or visual relevance for discursive communities in East Central Europe and that take literature as their central medium or the medium from which and through which “re-writings” originate and traverse. The examined icons, however, do not need to originate in the region, as transculturality results not only from local icons “going international” but also from the various forms of importing, contaminating or subverting icons from another culture or from a global/ized culture. Contributions with a comparative approach or with an area of application that goes beyond individual countries are very welcome.

    The genesis of cultural icons of East Central Europe and the reception, continuity, reinterpretation, and reappropriation of these icons in and for different contexts, as well as their media (or cultural) transcoding, in short, the mobility/flux of icons, up to the current day, is expected to be discussed with a view to at least one of the following aspects:

    a) Transculturality in polyethnic/multinational/multilingual contexts;

    b) Transculturality through historical change;

    c) Transculturality between “high” and “low” and in various media;

    d) Cultural icons and their linguistic form/ation.

    The guest editor of this special issue is the BMBF-funded group project “Cultural Icons of East Central Europe—The Afterlife of Romanticism” at the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas, GWZO), an independent research institute affiliated with Leipzig University

    Please submit a 500-word abstract (English or German, also indicating the proposed language of the full manuscript) and a brief biography (max. 5 publications) in a single Word document to: by April 1, 2016. Replies will be sent out by April 15, 2016. The deadline for submitting finished articles (max. 36 000 characters) is July 31, 2016. The editors in Leipzig will provide copy editing and, if necessary, translation into English. The peer-review process takes place during September 2016. For further information, do not hesitate to contact the editorial team. Please also visit the site of World Literature Studies journal website for technical instructions.

    [i]World Literature Studies is a peer-reviewed journal of the Institute of World Literature, Slovak Academy of Sciences. It publishes scholarly articles and reviews in general and comparative literary studies, translation studies, and related interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary areas. Most issues are thematic. The journal accepts previously unpublished original articles written in Slovak, Czech, English, German, French or Spanish, with an English abstract. All submissions undergo double-blind peer review. The acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee the acceptance of the full-length manuscript. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

    [ii] Cf. recent application of the concept in cultural studies Tamaselli, Keyan G./David Scott, eds. 2009. Cultural Icons. Walnut Creek, CA.; Leypoldt, Günter/Bernd Engler, eds. 2010. American Cultural Icons. The Production of Representative Lives. Tübingen. For national foci within the region, see e.g., Macura, Vladimír. 2010. The Mystifications of a Nation “The Potato Bug” and Other Essays on Czech Culture, Madison WI; or, Glanc, Tomaš. 2011. Souostroví Rusko: Ikony postsovětské kultury. Praha. For a global approach to visual representations with “iconic” status, see e.g., Haustein, Lydia. 2008. Global Icons: Globale Bildinszenierung und kulturelle Identität. Göttingen.