TRANSATLANTIC VOICES: The Literary Atlantic in Perspective


No. 40 – June, 2019

The Literary Atlantic in Perspective

One of the innovations in literary studies during the past few decades has been the increasing interest in aspects of the empirical universe that have been frequently approached in the literary universe. The triad, gender, race and class, or, to use more up-to-date theoretical terminology, sexualities, ethnicities, post-colonialisms andcultural studies, have long become commonplace in both theoretical works and others more focused on literary analysis and critique.

In connection with this opening-up to real-world referents in various literary modes, we have been witnessing an increased valorization of space-related dynamics, motivated in large part by a globalizing perception of the literary phenomenon, as well as by the desire to map it (Moretti) or to locate within it geocritical (Westphal) or geopoetic (Collot, White) challenges and virtualities, namely with respect to the porousness existing between different planes.

The theoretical-critical proposal underlying an area of study such as the “Literary Atlantic” (Moura/Porra, 2015) is part and parcel of this cultural juncture. It goes beyond the boundaries of national literatures and the mere comparison between national frameworks – as if they were homogeneous blocs, with clearly delineated land borders –and functions instead as an intermediate step between the local and the global.Additionally, it addresses aspects of the “real world”, such as colonial and post-colonial relations, diasporic exchanges, migration and identity negotiation, among other forms of human intercommunication.

It is true that the concept of the Atlantic as a unit or as a metaphor for transnationalism began to be explored after World War II by French historians interested in the topics of colonialism and slavery. The concept then went on to grab the attention of researchers in other areas of the social sciences and the humanities. However, the intrinsic aspects of crossings, exchanges and transfers within the Atlantic Ocean – a vast, fluid referent –have not been sufficiently analyzed, with the exception of a few studies such as Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993), Nancy Naro et al. in Cultures of the Lusophone Black Atlantic (2007), Joseph Roach’s Cities of the Dead: Circus-Atlantic Performance (1996) and Michael Malouf’s Transatlantic solidarities (2009), which nevertheless are restricted to their respective topics: the black diaspora and the Anglophone or Lusophone worlds; cultural rituals and theatrical and musical performance; and Irish literature and the Anglophone Caribbean.

National literary histories themselves have sometimes explored the idea of transatlantic dialogues, but end up focusing particularly on two-way relationships in dichotomous spaces such as Portugal-Brazil, Brazil-Africa, Europe-Latin America, and so on.

By proposing a reflection over such a realm as the Literary Transatlantic (with a deliberately emphatic prefix), consciously drawing on that space’s multiple voluntary and forced (transregional) contacts and on voices that travel beyond the boundaries of national literatures, we seek to situate our approach within the “literary turn” of Atlantic Studies (Gould, 2008), already initiated by other researchers (Clavaron/Moura, 2012; Moura/Porra, 2015; Clavaron/Moura 2017), but which continues to call for more and different perspectives, thereby enabling the creation of a plurilingual transatlantic literary cartography, consisting of multiple, multipolar intersections and open to subaltern subjects (in the post-colonial sense of the term) whose voices have tended to be silenced in the more or less recent past.

More than considering the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent spaces as diegetic settings, this approach is about exploring commonalities, specificities, synergies, exchanges, complicity or conflicts involving literary dynamics, possibly extending to other artforms and other Atlantic poles: from Europe, Africa or the Americas, in transnational languages including Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.

As such, we invite Literary and Cultural Studies researchers to submit papers within the scope of a Lusophone, Francophone, Hispanophone or Angolophone Literary Transatlantic, and which engage with the following themes:

  • Transnational circulations and dynamics of aesthetics; Cultural contacts between Atlantic shores;
  • Atlantic identities/insularities and crossings; Migrations and Diasporas;
  • Imaginary crossings and geographies;
  • Atlantic cities.

The organizers of the 40th edition (June, 2019) of the Cadernos de Literatura Comparada, a periodical publication of the Instituto de Literatura Comparada Margarida Losa.

  1. Ana Paula Coutinho (ILCML – Universidade do Porto)
  2. Leonor Simas-Almeida (ILCML – Brown University)
  3. José Domingues de Almeida (ILCML – Universidade do Porto)
  4. Patrícia Martinho Ferreira (ILCML – UMass Lowell)

Please email all articles to by February 15, 2019.

If the article does not comply with the journal’s formatting guidelines, it may be rejected by the organizers and thus will not be submitted for blind peer review.