Forum of Global Anglophone Literatures and Cultures

About the Forum

About the Forum

Focus

The Forum, co-led by Prof. Dr. Nadia Butt and Michelle Stork, investigates global anglophone literatures and cultures, an emerging internatioal and interdisciplinary research area, from a variety of angles. With a geographical focus on South Asia, Africa and the Arab World, the Caribbean, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, the Forum underscores the significance of engaging with literary texts from a transcultural and transnational lens.

Objective

Our objective is to study global anglophone literatures from a de-territorialized perspective. Both the object of study and the field of academic inquiry work across national and cultural borders. Indeed, global anglophone literatures are addressed as literatures ‘on the move’ (Ette 2003) in which patterns of mobility and migration, travelling cultures and communities, home and return, diaspora and flexible citizenship, cosmopolitanism and multiple cultural belongings play an essential role.

Creating Connections

Connecting scholars across borders and disciplines is one of the Forum’s major goals in order to expand and develop the research horizon of global anglophone literatures and cultures, both theoretically and methodologically.

Research Areas

The events and activities of the Forum, an initiative of the Research Centre of Historical Humanities (Forschungszentrum für Historische Geisteswissenschaften FZHG), are centred on the following research areas:

Transcultural and Transnational Studies

Deviating from eighteenth-century notions of culture, put forward by Gottfried Herder, as a singular sphere, research in this area focuses on the transcultural and transnational dimensions as manifested in a literary text, which tends to demonstrate cultural reconfigurations across territorial, national, and cultural borders. As these texts unfold cultural fusions more than fissures, they are treated as spaces of new cultural connections.

Mobility and Migration Studies

As mass movements of people and products are increasingly transforming the world, this area concentrates on investigating complex patterns of global mobility and migration in the wake of present-day cultural translations, as interrogated in global anglophone literatures. Considering multiple modes of mobility and migration, the goal is to analyse the various offshoots of these phenomena, including forced or voluntary migration, nomadism, wanderlust, dis- and replacement, exile, and diaspora.

Moving Cultures, Travelling Genres

In the face of global modernity, cultures are in constant flux, the manifestation of which is prevalent in different literary genres such as autobiographies or memoirs, novels or short stories, prison diaries or refugee narratives, epistolary narrative or journal writing. All of them are treated as ‘travelling genres’ (Cohen 2003), since they not only bring out the dynamics of moving cultures but also converge and coalesce with several other genres.

Study Groups & Research Networks 

  • Literary Auto/Mobility Studies Network 
  • Arab Feminism Reading Group (student-led)

Events

Events

The Forum meetings usually take place on Thursday evenings, 6-8pm. Please check the schedule for more information.


Melanie Ashe (Monash): 40 Years of the Wasteland: The Making of Mad Max in Far West New South Wales, Australia

4 July 2024, 4-6pm, IG 1.314 (Eisenhower Room)

This guest lecture will also take place on Zoom.
To join on us Zoom, please use the following details:
Meeting ID: 629 9728 6450
Passcode: 776261

The Mad Max franchise has a tense relationship with the geophysical and atmospheric contingencies of far west New South Wales, Australia. In 2011, Mad Max: Fury Road was set to film in the region, taking advantage of the area’s known vast arid “outback” plains. However, production was suddenly halted due to recent rainfall in the region. The location had become ‘too green’ to conform to the apocalyptic stylings of Mad Max. The film was delayed, and eventually ended up being relocated to Namibia, Africa. While the region not being arid enough to perform its duty as a Mad Max location was widely publicised, what is lesser known is that the region has struggled with producing the apocalyptic aesthetic of the films since the 1980s.

This talk unearths 40 years of Mad Max related histories within this region, including production and industry details of Mad Max 2 (1981), Fury Road (2015), and Furiosa (2024) – all (almost) shot on location in far west NSW. Not considering landscape as merely a setting, I situate on-location filmmaking as an industrial practice, asking how the geophysical spaces of this region in Australia have been critical as ‘co-producers’ in Australia’s film history, alongside humans and political economies. Tracking histories of high rainfall and the related boom of plant growth in this regional arid zone alongside film production, I find that  it remains a common production strategy within the region to physically intervene into the geophysical environment. In this way, I find that the film’s location shapes Mad Max’s aesthetic, but in turn, that film production also shapes the region’s environmental spaces.

Drawing from Australian transnational film histories, environmental humanities, media infrastructures and media industry research, this talk forwards a methodology for thinking about Australia’s film history and contemporary industry as deeply comingled with the environment. 

Melanie Ashe’s research explores how resource extraction and management has shaped the Australian moving image and its surrounding industry and cultures, focusing on the region around Broken Hill as a case study. Her research is part of the Australian Research Council funded project,‘Remaking the Australian Environment Through Documentary Film and Television’. Previously, she worked in Environmental Communications before completing her Masters in Film Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.


Book Launch: Kathrin Bartha-Mitchell’s Cosmological Readings of Contemporary Australian Literature: Unsettling the Anthropocene (Routledge, 2024)

11 July 2024, 6-8pm, IG 1.314 (Eisenhower Room)

This event will also be streamed on Zoom. To join on us Zoom, please use the following details:
Meeting ID: 636 5786 0914
Passcode: 326944

With statements by Victoria Herche (Cologne), Geoff Rodoreda (Stuttgart) and Dashiell Moore (Sydney).

This book presents an innovative and imaginative reading of contemporary Australian literature in the context of unprecedented ecological crisis. It focuses on notions of colonisation, farming, mining, bioethics, technology, environmental justice and sovereignty and offers ‘cosmological readings’ of a diverse range of authors—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—as a challenge to the Anthropocene’s decline narrative. This book will be of particular interest to scholars and students of ecocriticism, environmental humanities, and postcolonial and Indigenous studies, with a primary focus on Australian, New Zealand, Oceanic, and Pacific area studies. 

Reviews 

“[This] is an important new work of Australian ecocriticism. Bartha-Mitchell’s readings emphasise interconnections between beings, agencies and systems that work against the traditional humanistic focus of western prose fiction and offer a critical new dimension to Australian literary studies.” Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, Chair of Australian Literature, The University of Western Australia

“An innovative intervention in the environmental humanities, this thought-provoking study of contemporary Australian literature makes a powerful case for the generative concept of cosmos and, more broadly, for the importance of literary studies within the wider field.” Diletta De Cristofaro, Assistant Professor, Northumbria University, UK

Kathrin Bartha-Mitchell is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of New English Literatures and Cultures, Goethe University Frankfurt. Her areas of focus are transcultural Anglophone Literature, Ecocriticism and Intergenerational Justice. She earned her PhD within the joint programme between Goethe and Monash University in Melbourne.


Past Events

Postponed, new date to be announced: Prof. Dr. Claire Chambers (University of York): Breaking Down Walls in Post-Pandemic Fables: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun and Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man 

27 June 2024, 6-8pm, IG 1.314 (Eisenhower Room)

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021) and Mohsin Hamid’s The Last White Man (2022) are fables that indirectly engage with the Covid-19 pandemic. While neither novel explicitly mentions the pandemic, they offer profound reflections on this period in our history and its repercussions. Ishiguro uses a childlike lens to explore a dystopian world involving artificial intelligence and gene editing. Hamid elliptically addresses the pandemic in the context of a resurgence of racism and the resilient response from Black Lives Matter activists over the last half-decade. I draw on trauma theory by Cathy Caruth (1996) and Stef Craps (2013) to examine their oblique representations of the pandemic and the way it triggers reflections on other traumas. The pandemic’s inherently challenging nature for direct representation is echoed in observations by Alfred Thomas (2022), Elizabeth Outka (2020), and David Arnold (2022), who note the complexities in depicting pandemics. While these novels touch on themes of disease, death, and bereavement, they primarily focus on loneliness, digital dependency, and the societal divisions that have arisen, especially since 2016 due to events such as Brexit and the election of Trump. Ishiguro and Hamid’s transnational narratives encourage breaking down the metaphorical and physical barriers that have divided us. Through their fable-like storytelling, these authors strive to connect people and blur the lines that separate us.

Claire Chambers is Professor of Global Literature at the University of York. She joined the Department of English and Related Literature as Lecturer in 2012, following eight years as a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and a PhD at the University of Leeds. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2016 and to Professor in 2020. Her current research project is the monograph Decolonizing Disease: Pandemics, Public Health and Decoronial Writing (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2025). This book will explore global literary representations of malaria, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, the 1918 Flu pandemic, and the Covid-19 pandemic through the lens of race and (neo)colonialism.


Prof. Dr. Ananya Jahanara Kabir, FBA (King's College): Transoceanic Belonging: Activating Memories of Portuguese Presence in Goa

6 June 2024, 6-8pm, Cas 1.801 (Renate von Metzler-Saal)

This lecture will explore how the memory of Portuguese presence in Goa has been recollected by authors of Goan heritage representing different generations -- e.g. Lambert Mascarenhas’ ‘Sorrowing lies my Land’ (1955), Maria Aurora Couto’s ‘Goa: A Daughter’s Story’ (2004), and Suneeta Peres da Costa’s ‘Saudade’ (2019). I will read these literary texts within the memory work being undertaken in the post-Pandemic moment by a range of entrepreneurs within Goa’s creative economy as well as an increasing body of artists returning to the rich musical legacy of the Portuguese empire. From Nehru’s India, when Goa got absorbed into the Indian Union, to the early years of Hindutva ascendancy, and now to Modi’s India, turning to the history connecting Portugal to India represent conscious acts of memorialisation by these diverse cultural actors. Their literary, embodied, and performed interventions activate memories of transoceanic belonging whose postcolonial significance I draw out through theories of interimperiality, archipelagicity, and creolisation.

Ananya Jahanara Kabir is Professor of English Literature at King’s College London. She researches the intersection of the written text with other forms of cultural expression within acts of collective memorialization and forgetting. She is currently writing ‘Alegropolitics: Connecting on the Afromodern Dance Floor.’ Her new research projects explore further the concepts of transoceanic creolization through cultural production across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds. 

Through an ERC Advanced Grant (2013-2018), she led ‘Modern Moves’, an interdisciplinary investigation into African-heritage social dance and music. For her innovative work in the Humanities, she received the Infosys Humanities Prize (2018), awarded by the Infosys Science Foundation, India, and  the Humboldt Forschungspreis (Humboldt Prize, 2018), awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Germany.


Melanie Frey (University of Konstanz): 'I Guess There Must Be Pioneer Blood in Our Veins': Pioneering Nostalgia in Early Automobile Travel Writing

02 May 2024, 6-8pm, IG 1.314 (Eisenhower Room)

Touring the American landscape has been hailed as “a ritual of American citizenship” (Shaffer 2001) with the car as one of the most important vehicles – if not the most important one – for this kind of exploration. It allows for the expression of individualism and freedom, and to “imbibe the spirit or essence of America and rekindle [one’s] sense of patriotism” (Shaffer 2001). With the mass-acquisition of cars from the 1920s onwards, scholarly research has focused mainly on automobile touring as an increasingly popular past-time activity often referred to as “gypsying” (Belasco 1979). However, Americans already felt a need to ‘rekindle’ their patriotism in the two decades before that; Turner’s proclaimed closing of the frontier in 1893, growing social unrest and the perceived erosion of “traditional values” left members of the American society around the turn of the 20th century feeling adrift and yearning for a nostalgic past with national purpose. 

Using early automobile travel narratives between 1900-1920 by authors such as James W. Abbott, Florence M. Trinkle, and Charles B. Shanks, I will highlight how these texts make frontier nostalgia visible and in which ways automobile touring poses the motorist as a new type of “pioneer”. I will expand on Shaffer’s suggestion that the process of exploring the country via travel made tourists “better Americans” (142), by focusing on the presentation and emulation of pioneer experiences in these early automobile narratives. I suggest that early motorists referenced pioneer and immigrant history in their automobile travel writings to – literally or figuratively – follow their trails in order to (re)connect with a national frontier and exploration narrative, with a goal of engaging with their feelings of nostalgia to ultimately “settle” into their current American citizenship.

Melanie Frey is a doctoral researcher at the University of Konstanz and member of the ERC-funded research project "Off the Road: The Environmental Aesthetics of Early Automobility." Using fictional and nonfictional automobile narratives between 1890-1930, she examines the formation of the road trip as a genre. Her dissertation’s aim is to find and analyze previously unexamined road literature in the context of antecedent travel writing – pioneer narratives between 1820-1860 – to highlight which methods, tropes, and strategies were employed to articulate this new form of travel in American literature.

Fellows

Fellows

Fellows