Being Hospitable: Languages and Cultures Across Borders
The unifying theme for the 2021 MLA International Symposium is Being Hospitable: Languages and Cultures Across Borders, to be understood in the broadest possible senses of both hospitable and language and as a defiant counter-gesture to the currently inhospitable, even hostile, nature of world politics.
The word and concept of hospitality will embrace a wide range of disciplinary interpretations, including
- Ethics (philosophies of self/other, from existentialism to deconstruction)
- Welcoming the radically other (tout autre)
- Political theory (from identity politics to the “politics of alterity”)
- Gender fluidity
- Decolonial thinking (different modes of “writing back” to the Empire)
- Ongoing refugee and migration crisis
- International law and human rights
- Adoption (particularly international)
- Medical humanities (notably around the concepts of health, well-being and care, hospitals and hospitality)
- Social anthropology (rituals of welcoming the other)
- Security studies and conflict studies (hospitality and hostility)
- Problematizing the notion of hospitality itself as a way of maintaining difference
Questions of language will cut across the multiple and diverse approaches to the theme of Being Hospitable. We invite proposals that explore the ideas of hospitality and difference from any of the following suggested perspectives: multilingualism; linguistic and national ontologies; translation and untranslatability; and the performative and transformative nature of language, not only in literature and linguistics but also the languages of the arts, music, film, or technology.