Wednesday, February 7, 2018

National Seminar on Narrating Travel, Mapping Identities March 5-7, 2018 Institute of English University of Kerala

Call for Papers

Travel is simply seen as the process of getting from point A to point B. And often, in everyday practices, it may be just that. But when looked at from the intersectional vantage point of transcultural and transnational negotiations, travel indeed demands a greater engagement. With the explosion of means of travel, websites, tour groups, travel writers and bloggers, tourism promos by countries and individual states, places have moved closer and hence the need to take the road less travelled has become compelling, making the narrator an explorer seeking a uniqueness quotient, urging one to examine the rubrics of social and cultural engagement, while factoring in race, class and gender. Travels are often deeply personal and even if participatory they retain a certain degree of exclusivity of experience. Therefore, travel narratives are often presented as existential or soul searching and hence have the flavor of confessions and assume a hybrid state between fiction and ‘truth’. Travel writing thus occupies a nebulous position as a genre as its one sidedness and politics of writing the self make it fictional, while the anxiety of disseminating ‘knowledge’ mandates that it be non-fiction. 

Travel writing enjoys a rich history, extending beyond antiquity. Narratives of travel are present extensively in classical and Biblical traditions in the west and the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions in the east. Explorations of lands and cultures new continued without a break through the first millennium. Our knowledge of the period between the ninth and fourteenth centuries has been enriched by a corpus of narratives by renowned Arab and Chinese travellers. These writings coupled with the imaginative presentations of trade carried through the silk, spice and incense routes have provided an economy of knowledge of great relevance in contemporary academic discourse. The current interest in travel writing is only rivalled by the proliferation of narratives in the sixteenth century where such writings formed the basis of knowledge gathering and ultimately, the colonial enterprise. 

Travel writing is a genre which celebrates heterogeneity in its form and content. The sense of place evoked by any narrative is hinged on the dialogic nature of the self and the other. The self of the narrator / reader is a palimpsest which intensifies the subtleties of the text. Hence, where we position ourselves within these roles profoundly modifies our perception of a place. Such a politicized sense of agency requires linguistic and narrative flexibility where a field as divergent as wine writing becomes part of travel writing. 

It is this rhizomatic discourse of travel writing which we intend to explore through this seminar.

The seminar aims to
  1. examine the accounts by explorers / traders / colonizers / scholars /pilgrims to better understand the cultural and geopolitical relations today
  2. look into the dialectics of travel narratives as a response to the increasing need for visual, auditory and gustatory stimulations of the contemporary age and the way this has brought about a revolution in the technologies used to define the self
  3. interrogate the reasons behind the increased mobility of people and how it has calcified cultural impressions 4) derive an understanding of the process of identity formation and representation in the midst of modern / postmodern configurations.

The thrust areas would be, but not limited to
1. Theorising travel writing
2. Travel narratives across history
3. Travel and the Indian subcontinent
4. Arab and Chinese travel narratives and India
5. Colonial travel narratives and India
6. Travelling lives, writing lives
7. Gendering travel writing
8. Travel and the body
9. Visual politics of travel narratives
10.Travel in the age of globalization
11.Travel and the new media
12.Reification of travel

Well researched papers are invited from academicians, teachers, research scholars and students on the areas of interest specified. Please send an abstract of 300 words with your bionote to the following email:

Important Dates
Deadline for submitting abstracts: 16 February 2018 
Confirmation of acceptance of abstracts: 21 February 2018
Final schedule of programme: 26 February 2018

For further details contact:
Dr. B. S. Jamuna 
Professor & Head 
Institute of English Institute of English
0471 - 2386325(O)

Dr. Lakshmi Sukumar (Coordinator)
Assistant Professor
Institute of English Institute of English