Tuesday, June 21, 2011


International Conference, Université d’Orléans (FRANCE), March 29-31, 2012
(Co-sponsors: REMELICE, Université d’Orléans, and FORELL, Université de Poitiers)
“Historically, pastoral has sometimes activated green consciousness, sometimes euphemized land appropriation. It may direct us toward the realm of physical nature, or it may abstract us from it” (Lawrence Buell. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture).
“Pastoral’s ancient and universal appeal – to come away – requires new examination in an age in which there is no away” (Glen A. Love. Practical Ecocriticism: Literature, Biology, and the Environment).
“Yet the ideas and the images of country and city retain their great force. This persistence has a significance matched only by the fact of the great actual variation, social and historical, of the ideas themselves” (Raymond Williams. The Country and the City)
This conference aims at bringing together scholars studying different genres and aspects of the pastoral in the English-speaking world, either in its historic or its contemporary forms, and thus to achieve an overview or mapping of contemporary work in the field.
Papers should try, in particular, to address the question of how a sense of place informs pastoral writing and art: there are as many versions of Arcadia as there are versions of the pastoral. The notions of poetics and politics in the conference title are meant to draw attention to the way form and ideology conjoin in pastoral evocations of place.
Contributions could therefore concern the following topics, though the list is not inclusive:
- Pastoral is a form of localism (or regionalism): it celebrates being rooted in rural and sometimes bucolic and idyllic places. And yet pastoral writing is also nostalgic about a place that is always elsewhere, in the past of some golden age. What is the relation between the local and the universal in pastoral writing?
- Is pastoral necessarily connected to a place? Are there nomadic versions of the pastoral in which place becomes space?
- Pastoral may be sentimental and allegorical but also practical and specific (for instance, the farmer’s connection to the land); it may dream of a return to nature, a life “close to nature”, or voice concern over the evolution and fate of a specific place. What is the relation between the specific and the allegorical in pastoral writing?
- Pastoral may refer to a specific literary genre (the idyll, the eclogue, pastoral comedy, etc.) or to an attitude (pastoralism). What is the relation between genre and the evocation of place in pastoral writing?
- Pastoral has been variously described as “an island experience”, “a retreat”, a form of “escape” (or escapism). What is the relation between the protected, isolated or marginal sphere of the pastoral and the larger historical context (the court, the city, industrialism, international and colonial commerce, etc.)?
- Pastoral place and pastoralism are frequently presented as alternatives to established and/or hegemonic forms of society and social relations. What are the effects of race, class and gender on the sense of place in pastoral? To what extent may those relations turn a pastoral place into an anti-pastoral one?
- Pastoral is traditionally associated with rurality. Can pastoral place also be evoked in other settings: urban or suburban, colonial, global, extraterrestrial? What are the aesthetic and ideological stakes of relocations of the pastoral?
The conference organisers welcome contributions from scholars in various fields: literature, cultural studies, environmental history, film studies, art.
We will privilege proposals that clearly contribute to the debate over the importance and significance of place in pastoral.
The conference language will be English.
Please send your proposals (300 words and a brief bio) by September 10, 2011 to Thomas Pughe (thomas.pughe@univ-orleans.fr) and Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd (bfryd@univ-poitiers.fr)