Contact Zones Call 2017

Contact Zones

Transnational Encounters, Dialogues and Self-Representation in Contemporary Eastern European Literature, Cinema and Visual Cultures

28-30 September 2017

Venue: Eötvös Loránd University, the Institute of Hungarian Literature and Cultural Studies, Budapest

Conference programme

Full conference booklet

Since the fall of communist regimes, the geographical, political, and cultural concept of Eastern Europe has been continuously debated in various discursive and institutional contexts. Rather than engaging further in a discussion operating with exclusion, delimitation, setting borders and limits, we propose to envisage Eastern Europe as a contact zone, a place of cultural encounters performed by both social, everyday practices and aesthetical, ideological, discoursive strategies detectable in the literary and cinematic production.

The recurrent topics involving various types of mobility, (mis)communication, dialogue or translation often appear both as figurations of (national, sexual, individual) identity quests and as allegorical reflections upon the existing (post-colonial, national) discourses on identity and self-representation. While we value the Eastern European context in terms of a more complex image of a troubled discoursive identity, we consider the case of Hungarian and Romanian literature and cinema as paradigmatic for contradictory transnational encounters. Although sharing a communist past and a post-communist present, the contemporary literature and cinema of the two countries presents big discrepancies when dealing with memory work, identity crisis and self-representation. The different cinematic and literary paradigms they represent are, however, often reconciled and taken onto a metadiscursive level in co-productions and literary adaptations. Literary works and films themselves appear as contact zone, and co-productions produce heterotopia (Ewa Mazierska) where cultural encounters take place. Applying to contemporary Eastern European settings Hamid Naficy’s term of accented cinema, equally referring to the languages, dialects, accents spoken in the film and to the irregularities of the film’s production mode, the question arises whether the accented term can be used for literary works focusing on intercultural encounter. Arguably, the accented mode becomes a common denominator for those to whom Nicolas Bourriaud’s concept of the radicant artist (directors, actors, writers), involved in a constant translation between cultures and media, also applies.

We encourage the participation of both scholars and artists eager to engage in an intercultural, interdisciplinary and intermedial dialogue on the (interrelated) discursive strategies of self-representation and transnational dialogue in both an Eastern European and a Hungarian-Romanian context. We expect theoretical, conceptual approaches and in-depth analyses of works raising the issue of the applicability of postcolonial theories with regards to the East-West dichotomy, as well as the self-colonizing strategies thematized and performed by Eastern European artists.

The international conference will organize a special workshop, dedicated to the dialogue between Romanian and Hungarian cinemas, including academics and film makers. The main event will be joined by two of the most important representatives of the Romanian film industry, Oana Giurgiu and Marian Crișan who will be available for a round table discussion. This will be only one of the series of cultural events including film screenings and discussions with writers, film directors and critics from both countries.

The event is co-organized by the ongoing project Space-ing Otherness. Cultural Images of Space, Contact Zones in Contemporary Hungarian and Romanian Film and Literature (hosted by the Institute for Hungarian Literature and Cultural Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) and the Ekphrasis Research Centre for Trans-disciplinary Studies (Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca) with the extraordinary patronage of The Romanian Cultural Institute in Budapest.

Other partners include: The Film, Photography and Media Department, Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Keynote speakers:

Edit András, Senior Research Fellow, Research Institute for Art History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Ágnes Pethő, Head of the Film, Photography and Media Department, Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Mihaela Ursa-Pop, Head of the Department of Comparative Literature, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Submissions may include (but are not limited to) the following topics:

Representations of changes of régime and periods of transition

Travelling theoretical concepts and transnational encounters

Post-colonial theory in the Eastern-Western European context

Self-colonizing strategies

Historical, political, cultural background of literary and cinematic transnational encounters

Forms of mobility as figurations of self-representation

Imagined and imaginative geographies of self-representation

Historical-political allegories of transnational encounters

Intermediality as figuration of transnational dialogue

Medium specificity and (national, sexual, individual) identity

National and transnational narratives and changing points of view

Transnational literary adaptations – intercultural translations?

Narratives of neighborhood

Nation representation and identity formation in contemporary cinema

Gender roles in transition / transformation

Gender in the mirror of literary and cinematic genres

Memory of the past and the re-inventing of history through cinema

Trauma and dealing with the recent past in EE cinema

Nostalgia and melancholia as emotional/existential post-communist attitudes

Border crossings: subversive self-representations

Language (accent, dialect, grammatical, lexical aspects) and (national, sexual, individual) self-representation

Linguistic diversity as figuration of transnational encounters

Eastern European accented cinemas: production modes, artistic strategies

Co-productions as productions of heterotopias

The possibility of an accented literature

The figure of the radicant artist in Eastern European, Eastern-Western European and Hungarian-Romanian context

Re-configuration of a common Hungarian-Romanian past and future projections

Films as expressions of specific cultural experiences and their impact on society

Parallels between the film industries and film cultures in the region

Abstracts of max. 150 words are expected to be sent to with 2-3 bibliographical references and a biographical note not exceeding 100 words. Pre-constituted panels are also welcome. The call is equally addressed to academic scholars, researchers and PhD or MA students.

Deadline of submissions: 30 June 2017 (extended deadline). Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 15 July 2017.

Conference participation fee: 50 Euros

The official language of the conference is English.

We are planning to publish the best articles resulting from the conference presentations in:

The peer reviewed journal Ekphrasis (ERIH/ EBSCO

The Acta Universitatis Sapientiae. Film and Media Studies (

The online journal Contact Zones. Studies in Eastern European Film and Literature (

and / or a separate volume.

Organizing committee: Mónika Dánél, Zsolt Gyenge, Zsolt Győri, Hajnal Király, Doru Pop, László Strausz, Teréz Szűcs, Balázs Varga, Ferenc Vincze.

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