Nouvelles Littératures

Nouvelles Littératures/ New Literatures (Cécile Girardin et Pascal Zinck)

“Exception(s),” the theme chosen for the 2019 SAES conference, is particularly relevant in the context of New Literatures in English. It will allow postcolonial researchers to explore the dialectic tensions between homogeneity and heterogeneity, marginalization and control, dominant norms, exclusion, empowerment and indigeneity, deviation and resistance. Papers that engage with distinctive voices or atypical works that challenge orthodoxy and/or the postcolonial aesthetic canon in content or form are welcome.

Long before 9/11 and the emergence of the security state, colonization has been defined as a “state of exception” (the 1918 Blue Book on German colonial rule in Namibia; see also Agamben, Mbembe…). Although the apartheid regime has ended in South Africa, its influence is still shaping contemporary society, and its erasure is incomplete or controversial. In former dominions, state organizations are subsidizing indigenous voices partly due to a colonial guilt complex; however, such largesse does not extend to returning lands or mineral riches. In many former colonies, the state of exception has been perpetuated courtesy of one-party states, prebendary politics or military regimes, and it has acquired a new lease of life to rein in minorities or persecute refugees with the advent of global terror. The New Literatures panel invites proposals on the legacy of such representations, with a particular focus on neo-colonial rewriting of the past and the nation-states’ configuration of docile, ethnically and religiously homogeneous polities. Papers can also examine alternative or subversive works that seek to critique or undermine the neo-colonial enterprise to promote a national(ist) canon (Arundathi Roy, the subalternists, etc…).

An epistemological and/or theoretical approach is also possible: one might consider the limitations of aesthetic exceptions in postcolonial literature and theory. Some critics argue that the postcolonial corpus has fossilized into a normative body of texts (“writing back,” “the in-between space,” “hybridity,” to name but a few of the recurring tropes), which, albeit based on a very regime of exception, have led to a somewhat formulaic/homogeneous canon, due to the global power of the English language, and the dominance of US and UK Publishers normalizing literature to cater to a global audience (Huggan). In turn, how do writers resist these homogenizing forces and respond to such established trends? What innovative forms of writing are found?

Proposals of 300 words (in English only, word.doc format), accompanied by a brief bio-biblio, should be sent to Cecile Girardin and Pascal Zinck before 15 October at:;