Scientific Journey: Europe Literary Liminalities


The particular political and linguistic diversity of the European continent – which challenges the uniqueness of a global language – induces a multifocal and multilingual approach in literary creation concerning the European issue.

Indeed, the current conjuncture of the Old Continent, which is confronted with dangerous populist drifts and the temptation of a nationalist closure, makes the fictional concern of writers focussed on this problematic complexity to be addressed by, on the one hand, the still significant sequels of the conflictual History inherited from the 19thand 20thCenturies and, on the other hand, the prospective idea of ​​an institutional construction, to which Europe cannot be reduced, and which is essentially focused on the economy and finance.

However, the tension between these two perspectives – which raises many questions and debates, as the attempt to write a European “constitution” has revealed – appears nevertheless to be the focus of a discussion about Europe, below and beyond the European Union, which can take the form of a subtle narrativization and fictionalisation of our continent as a topic, a theme, a concern, and even an obsession in many European authors’ work.

Moreover, due to globalisation, the rapid displacement of representations and the projection into (re)invented peripheral spaces from a centre, give rise to literary liminalities that catalyse writings and fictional readings from Europe’s peripheries, and in languages ​​belittled in thecontext of global communication. These literary liminalities, which look to Europe retrospectively and / or critically, coincide with various geographic peripheries: Nordic, Baltic, Slavic, Hellenic, etc., or refer to minor linguistic statutes in the very context of the great European nation-states.

Thus, the authors who publish in these minor languages​​- which could be brought together with writers who publish in a wide circulation language, but do not fall into the literary mainstream – are subject to the logic of an editorial market that is often circumscribed to very specific thematic and markets niches.

Hence the relevance of a proactive European policy towards the promotion and dissemination of these literary liminalities that question, evoke or thematise Europe. Such a policy is namely developed by the establishment of literary prizes such as the European Book Prize, which, under the pretext of “making Europe attractive” and rewarding positive views of our continent, have often awarded  liminal European writers.

In short, the approach of the European literary liminalities raises two key questions whose study we propose to the researchers that this specific topic addresses. On the one hand, it presents as the central theme of comparative literary studies, the multipolar and peripheral views of the post-1945 European problematic; on the other hand, it mobilises a reflection on the access to this vast narrative ofEurope by works published in minority (in a European context) languages ​​and to their circulation, as well as on the editorial, translational and educational policies that favour or hinder their diffusion.

Thematic axes:we specifically point to European geographical and cultural liminalities, or European authors outside the mainstream:

  1. Representations and peripheral views on Europe and the Europeans;
  2. Europe: (Post-) memory (ies) and transcultural memories;
  3. European identity (ies);
  4. European (de)construction.

The program can be consulted here.

Organizing Committee:
Ana Paula Coutinho
Gonçalo Vilas-Boas
José Domingues de Almeida
Teresa Martins de Oliveira