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Call for Papers

Writers and critics have in recent years hailed for a ¡°return¡± of realism to the literary arena with revised notions of what constitutes realist representation to take account of the experiences that are unique to our new era, e.g. ¡°speculative realism¡±, ¡°metonymic realism¡±, ¡°ecocritical realism¡±, and ¡°quantum realism¡±, to name just a few. Indeed, realism has never been away from the academic limelight despite its accused naivety in aspiring to represent reality objectively, unabashed interpellation of readers into dominant ideologies or a symptom of the waning of affect in late capitalism. Admittedly, the critical attention tends to gravitate towards the dazzling and kaleidoscopic arrays of experiments on literary forms and styles; but as far as writers are concerned, they seem to be more committed to discovering and representing the real world as spearheaded by the 19th century realists and intent upon breaking beyond the boundaries of bourgeois everyday life and the Paris-London geographical axis. Realism was a nineteenth-century literary movement, a ¡°period-concept,¡± but at the same time ¡°a recurrent mode¡­of representing human life and experience in literature¡± in M. H. Abrams¡¯s definition. The ¡°return¡± of realism in our current era, therefore, speaks not so much to the resurrection of a literary caput mortuum as to a refreshed awareness that the narration of any story is inevitably also the documentation of the history of which one is an integral part, the memory that one lives by, and the world where one is situated, particularly in a time defined by restlessness and adversity. Testimony to the relevance of such key terms to the individual existence is the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded to Annie Ernaux who ¡°uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.¡±


Riveting upon the tripartite connections among history, memory and world in regard to the configuration of literary realisms, our conference calls for a ¡°return¡± of not only literary realism, but also a comeback to Nanjing University. In 2018, the university successfully hosted ¡°Reproducing and Reconstructing Reality: International Conference on Realism(s) in Post-WWII Literature,¡± which engaged scholars from across different languages and cultures in a fruitful dialogue that enhanced common understanding of realisms in post-WWII world literature. Much has changed in the past four years, to our everyday life and experience, to the historical course of humanity, as well as to the world that surrounds us. Yet our commitment to the intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching discussion on realism remains unchanged. It is in this spirit that we invite our friends, old and new, to come once again to Nanjing in 2023 for a continued effort to traverse the landscapes of realism. It is our sincere hope that you take part in this event, and enjoy the intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching experience.

Topics (suggested but not restricted to the following):
1. Realism and its body of knowledge

2. The philosophical discourse on realism

3. Realism and history

4. Realism in the plural

5. Realism in world literature

6. Re-interpretation of classical realist theories

7. Contemporary realist literature

8. Chinese realist literature

9. Realism in Specific Countries and Regions

10. Comparative studies of Chinese and Western realisms

11. Realism and social transformations

12. Realism and interdisciplinary studies

13. Realism and aesthetics

14. Realism and biofiction

15. Realism and intermedia studies

16. Realism and thing/object

Center for the Study of Contemporary Foreign Literature and Culture
School of Foreign Studies, Nanjing University

Conference Venue: 
Xianlin Campus of Nanjing University

Working Language: 
English/Chinese/Other languages

Nanjing University International Conference Center

163 Xianlin Avenue, Nanjing



Registration Fee:
The conference registration fee is RMB800. The registration fee covers conference attendance on October 20-22, 2023, lunches and dinners during the conference.

Important Dates:
Abstract Submission Due
July 30, 2023

October 20-22 (Friday to Sunday), 2023

Contact Us:
Dr. LIU Yang