Literature and Ethics
14th International Comparative Literature Colloquium
Ljubljana, 9–10 September 2016
Call for papers
Organisers: Slovenian Comparative Literature Association, Slovene Writers’ Association, Department of German Studies (Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana); financial support: the Slovenian Book Agency (JAK)
The Slovenian Comparative Literature Association in cooperation with the Slovene Writers’ Association and the University of Ljubljana’s Department of German at the Faculty of Arts is organizing – within the framework of the 31st Vilenica International Literary Festival – the 14th International Comparative Literature Colloquium, titled “Literature and Ethics.”
It has long been recognized that literature includes, among other dimensions, an ethical dimension. Current occurrences, such as new forms of warfare, migrations and social anguish, also call on literary studies to examine the tools it uses to analyse the ethical dimension and its role in this context.
This year’s Comparative Literature Colloquium lends itself to speaking about ethics on at least three levels:
the ethicality of imagination,
the ethicality of narration,
the ethicality of interpretation.
In his Ethik (Ethics, 2011), Wilfried Härle notes that no ethics written in the past 100 years has dealt with the problematic issue of ethics in language. This issue is linked to the tradition of discussions of falsehood and lies. While literature, which defines itself as a fiction, may be able to remove itself from such discussions, at another level it is caught up in them. Because literature shows “what could happen,” it becomes a privileged site of utopias and dystopias. Though postmodernism rejected these on account of their being ideological, today they are, in various forms, returning to literature. This gives rise to various questions: what is the role of utopias in literature? Which forms of utopian moments are appearing? What is the role of ideology in them?
Literary texts mediate value systems, norms and ethical questions through how they tell – that is, both through the specific use of language (semantics, syntax, rhetoric) as well as through narrative approaches. These approaches are, in the context of studies on narrative ethics, which has a tradition stretching back several decades, much studied; and yet, with new literary praxes on the one hand and the development of narratology, postcolonial studies and gender studies as well as the development of new media, on the other, new questions arise, for example: what is the relation between morality and ethics in the framework of already established approaches to narrative ethics? How can we approach individual literary types and genres?
We can speak about the ethics of interpretation at the level of immanently literary approaches – that is, the ways in which literature interprets information that is generally accepted as real – and also at the level of how literary studies interpret literature. Precisely here questions arise that go beyond merely literary approaches, since they question the relationship literature has to the world and the place literature holds in the world. Because these questions penetrate to the very essence of our relationship to the world, to our fellow humans, this year’s Comparative Literature Colloquium aims to be an interdisciplinary event encompassing reflections from the realms of theology, sociology, studies and literary studies.
The working languages at the Colloquium are English and Slovenian, with papers preferably presented in English. Each paper is limited to 20 minutes (+10 minutes for discussion). Applications should be sent via e-mail by April 1, 2016 to: and .
Your application should include: 1) the name and title of the presenter, 2) the title of the paper, 3) the name and address of the parent institution, 4) a short abstract (up to 1500 characters). Because the number of presenters is limited, the organizing committee will select the most suitable ones and will inform presenters of selection results by 1 May 2016. All presenters will also be guests of the 31st Vilenica International Literary Festival. Original academic papers, selected after a peer-review process, will be published in the journal Primerjalna književnost (Comparative Literature)
Organizers: Irena Samide, Špela Virant
Programme board: Ljubinka Petrović-Ziemer, Irena Samide, Špela Virant, Dejan Kos