Central Europe at the Crossroads

PhD Workshop in Prague co-organized by  “Passages” PhD program (Eur’ORBEM, Paris Sorbonne University), the Faculty of Arts of Charles University and CEFRES

Date and Venue: 14 April 2016 at CEFRES (Na Florenci 3) and 15 April 2016 (at FF UK).
Languages: French and English.

Call for papers

These two graduate research days in Prague aim to offer an overview of Central Europe through cultural transfers and intertextuality, considering the connections the countries of that region have shared with both Western and Eastern Europe: they thereby play a central role in the organisation of European geopolitical, literary and cultural spaces.

From this point of view, the capital of the Czech Republic holds a special place in Europe. For centuries the region has been both a laboratory and a source of inspiration for European literature and European poetic programmes. This “two-way traffic” of political, social and cultural influences characterises Central Europe as a space where many dynamics meet.

We will consider the conditions of this meeting, firstly by focusing on the exchanges which make up the transnational aspect of this crossroads and secondly in the perspective of confrontation and borders, which have greatly contributed to establishing its current geopolitical features.

The fact that the region is ill defined, and may be looked on as simply a forgotten space between the East and the West, means it should be seen as a supranational or even supra-political cultural entity.

During the Cold War, the writers and intellectuals Milan Kundera and György Konrád perceived Central Europe (Mitteleuropa) as an artistic entity which was part of a certain tradition. Arguing that there exists a specific space between the East and the West, Imre Kertész considers that the literary world’s “spiritual imagination” constitutes a genuine example of cultural continuity through its intertextuality.

Secondly, we will consider this region, whose borders have overcome many changes, with respect to the hostilities and animosities (military ones, but also ethnic and social ones) which marked its history during the modern era.

This area of friction situated at the crossroads between the Slavic worlds and other peoples inspired an original conception of the border, centre and borderlands, such as those of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

We should also mention this region’s external borders and ask ourselves about the boundaries of Central Europe and its relationship with the Eastern and Western worlds surrounding it. External transfers may be seen as a indication of the strangeness, the shifts, but also of the dialogues that take place with other European regions.

These two aspects outline the guidelines which we intend to follow during these two days, meaning firstly the internal definition of Central Europe as an autonomous cultural space and secondly, its conception as a privileged meeting point between the Western and Eastern cultural spaces.

Contacts : Jean Boutan jean.boutan@gmail.com;

Claire Delaunay claire__delaunay@hotmail.fr.