Distance & Proximity (2014)

“Distance & Proximity”

University College London – Society for Comparative Cultural Inquiry

Postgraduate Conference – 26th & 27th June

 First Folio D 1965 by Harold Cohen

The conference features papers by postgraduate students across a wide spectrum of interests and disciplines whose work offers perspectives relating to the concept(s) of Distance and Proximity. In particular, these are papers that interrogate these notions in an interdisciplinary manner and explore their critical possibilities.

We invite graduate researchers working in fields related to European languages, cultures, and society to respond to this critical interrogation, and in doing so, reflect on how concepts of distance and proximity operate in different theoretical contexts, and whether interconnections between various fields may be achieved or disconnections rendered productive.

The conference will be structured into chaired panels whose organisation reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the conference and an attempt to approach ideas of distance and proximity from a variety of theoretical perspectives and across orthodox disciplinary boundaries.


  Artistic Practice
  Construction of Space
  Cultural Translation
  Ethnicity, Identity; Language
  Gender: Heteroflexibility, Feminist Linguistics; the Body
  Physical space in Art & Literature

Keynote Speakers

•   Professor Andrew Leak (Professor of French at UCL)
•   Dr Rosa Mucignat (Lecturer in Comparative Literature at King’s College London)

The detailed schedule of the conference is available here


Register on Eventbrite
Attendance is free, however, registration is compulsory as places are limited.

Further Information

A selection of papers from the conference will be published online in the second edition of Tropos, a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed academic journal based in UCL.

Follow us on Twitter @CultureInqUCL or use #DistanceProximity


Complete Programme

Thursday, June 26th

9.00-10.00 Registration and coffee
10.00-11.00 Keynote: Dr Rosa Mucignat, KCL, Lecturer in Comparative Literature, Far from Where? Perspectives on Place and Comparative Methods
11.00-11.30 Break with refreshments
11.30-13.00 Cultural translation (Chair – Niall Sreenan)

❖      Dominic Davies (University of Oxford), Geography, Topography, Infrastructure: Mapping the Oscillations of the Frontier in John Buchan’s Prester John (1910)

❖      Rebecca Loeb (UCL), Other Stuff: Taxidermy and Intersectionality in Postcolonial Canada

❖      Sophie Stevens (KCL), The thickness of theatre translation in a study of Bailando sola cada noche by Raquel Diana (2008, Uruguay)

13.00-13.45 Lunch
13.45-15.45 Physical Space in Art and Literature (Chair – Stefano Rossoni)

❖      Nicola Thomas (Nottingham), Meridians: the poem as a place of encounter in the work of Paul Celan and J. H. Prynne

❖      Elvan Sayarer (Université de Montréal), Visual Perception and Mobility in Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul. Memories and the City

❖      Saba Ahmed (Goldsmiths), ‘In that Black or Luminous Square’: Windows as sites of imagination in the writings of Proust and Beckett

❖      Rory Mackay Mcginley (Glasgow), Re-imagining Suburbia in Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road

15.45-16.00 Break with refreshments
16.00-17.30 Ethnicity, Identity, and Language (Chair – Dr Hugh Goodacre)

❖      Catherine Gibson (SSEES, UCL), Language or Dialect? The politicisation of language in Central and Eastern Europe

❖      Yi Zhang (University of Hawai’i), Fragile Distance: Nationalism and Disillusionment in City of Glass

❖      Bharath Ganesh (UCL), Listening and the politics of race: distance and proximity in hip-hop

18.00 onwards Conference dinner – at Tas Turkish restaurant in Bloomsbury


Friday, June 27th

9.00-10.00 Coffee
10.00-11.30 Artistic Practice (Chair – Thea Petrou)

❖      Kay Tabernacle (UCL), Distance and Proximity in Hannah Höch’s radical imagination

❖      Patricia Townsend (The Slade), Distance and proximity in the creative process of visual artists

❖      Avril Tynan (Royal Holloway), The illusion of distance and the spectre of proximity in the films of Jorge Semprun

11.30-11.45 Break with refreshments
11.45-13.45 Construction of Space (Chair – ALex Lee)

❖      Alexander Pavey (UCL), ‘I’m there right now. Call me.’ Unstable identities and irregular distances from Raymond Chandler to David Lynch

❖      James Tattington (Portsmouth), “A place between human places”: Mapping literary space in Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine and Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

❖      Anna Andersen (The Bartlett), Windows: close or distant to nature?

13.45-14.30 Lunch
14.30-15.45 Gender: Heteroflexibility, Feminist Linguistics & the Body (Chair – Gabriella Caminotto)

❖      Christiane Luck (UCL), ‘That’s unscientific!’ Science as the arbitrator of ‘truth’ in feminist linguistic debates?

❖      Magali Burnichon (UCL), Queer Representations and Straight Audiences

15.45-16.15 Break with refreshments
16.15-17.15 Keynote: Prof. Andy Leak, UCL, Professor of French Studies, Fabrication and Creation – an exploration of laterality in some works by Georges Perec
17.15 onwards Wine reception



Call for Papers (CLOSED)

The dynamics of relation are central to interdisciplinary study in the Arts and Humanities. The relational dyad of distance and proximity provides us with a rich set of spatial, affective, theoretical, and historical relations in which we can explore the dynamics that run throughout the fabric of our own cultural inquiry. Moreover, navigating the distances between disciplines enables the preservation and affirmation of the significance of “difference”, cultural, sexual, artistic, conceptual and/or otherwise.

In an interdisciplinary academic environment, the negotiations and procedures involved in an exploration of distances and proximities enable us to recalibrate the relations between disciplines and methodologies, without effacing the differences which define them.

For the third annual Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference, University College London’s Society for Comparative Cultural Inquiry invites proposals for papers relating to the connected theme(s) of “Distance and Proximity” from scholars across a wide spectrum of disciplines. We welcome papers dealing with past as well as contemporary sources from Europe and beyond, from any disciplinary or transdisciplinary perspective. Proposals for panel discussions, performances, artistic installations and workshops are also welcome.

The aim of the conference is to interrogate and explore the concepts of distance and proximity from perspectives which might encompass the following. Other interpretations will be gladly received:

Historicity: historical distance and the proximity of the present; Affective or emotional closeness, psychological distance; Space, geography, the urban environment; Interdisciplinary relation; Distance and proximity in literary and poetic works; Ideological and political distances, in practice and in theory.

We invite submissions from all cultural disciplines, including but not limited to:

Literary criticism and theory Film studies and photograph; Politics; History; Modern Languages; Philosophy; Art; Psychology/Psychoanalysis; Cultural Studies; Translation Studies; Gender studies

Please send an abstract (250 words), 5 keywords and a brief biographical statement (50 words) to culturalinquiry.ucl@gmail.com. Deadline for submissions is 28th March 2014.

A selection of contributions to the conference will be considered for publication in the Society’s new journal, Tropos.

This conference is organised by:

The Society for Comparative Cultural Inquiry, University College London.

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