Tales of Transit. Narrative Migrant Spaces in Transatlantic Perspective, 1830-1954

Ghent University Association Research Group on Literature in Translation et al.
Closing date for submissions: 
15 November, 2009
Event dates: 
10.06.2010 - 13.06.2010

International conference

Felix Archive

Antwerp, Belgium

10-13 June, 2010


Conference Theme

Tales of Transit will bring together insights and methodologies from migration and maritime history, translation studies and literary studies, and confront these with the rich but largely underexplored archive of transatlantic migrant narratives. In view of the opening of the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Tales of Transit takes the city as its starting point to rethink transatlantic migration.

We encourage contributions offering comparative perspectives on migrants traveling through well-known as well as lesser known ports in Europe, Africa and the Americas. The focus may be broadened to include mainland cities functioning as nodal points for migration flows or border crossing points on the frontier between states or regions. Overall, the stress lies on how such liminal spaces are narrated or visualized in testimonies or fiction: How vital are these sites for the migrant’s tale? Do such loci affirm or rather subvert the migrants’ aspirations and hopes? Does the perspective shift in accordance with the linguistic medium or audience expectations and, if so, in what ways?

Contributions may address any of the above questions in relation to the Atlantic migration flows that came into force roughly from the 1830s onwards, as a consequence of unsettled conditions in Europe and elsewhere. The year 1954, when the Ellis Island Immigration Station closed, was selected as an appropriate terminus ad quem, indicating the transition from steamers to planes as the dominant mode of transatlantic transportation.


Suggested Thematic Areas

▪ Language and translation

▪ Migration as business

▪ Iconography of migration

▪ Archiving testimonies


A more detailed description of the theme can be found on the conference website: http://www.talesoftransit.eu.


Keynote Speakers

▪ Matthew Frye Jacobson (Yale University)

▪ Nancy K. Miller (City University of New York)

▪ Adam Walaszek (Jagiellonian University Krakow)

▪ Werner Sollors (Harvard University) TBC


Organizing Institutions 

▪ Ghent University Association Research Group on Literature in Translation

▪ Faculty of Translation Studies, Ghent University College

▪ Institute of Jewish Studies, University of Antwerp

▪ Leuven Research Group on Literary Relations and Postnational Identities

▪ Lessius University College Department of Applied Language Studies

▪ Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg

▪ Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp


Guidelines for Submission and Presentation

Paper proposals in English of no more than 300 words can be submitted to michael.boyden@hogent or liselotte.vandenbussche@hogent.be by November 15, 2009. The academic committee will evaluate the abstracts and send out notifications of acceptance by the end of the calendar year.

Each participant will be given 20 minutes to present, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. A selection of papers will be published in the conference proceedings.


Congress Fees

Participants are expected to pay a conference fee of 60 EUR (88 USD), which covers the academic program, congress documentation, coffee breaks, a reception in the Antwerp city hall and an exclusive guided tour of the Red Star Line Museum (http://www.redstarline.be). The student rate is 30 EUR or 44 USD.


Accommodation and City

The conference site (http://www.felixarchief.be) is located in a former warehouse in the heart of the historical harbor, on walking distance from the city’s main attractions.

Special hotel rates for conference participants are being negotiated. Details will be posted on the conference website.

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