Final days to register for the ‘Undercurrents: Challenging the Mainstream’ international conference (ULiège)

The conference programme for an upcoming conference on ‘Undercurrents: Challenging the Mainstream’ is now available. The call is now closed but participants are welcome to register until 24 November 2022 by filling in this Google form.

The conference is being organised by the research units LilithCIRTI, and CEREP of the University of Liège on behalf of the Belgian Association of Anglicists in Higher Education (BAAHE). The conference will take place at the University of Liège on 2 December 2022. Keynote speakers are Kristin Davidse (KU Leuven) and Douglas Robinson (Chinese University of Hong Kong).

Book of abstracts:


Call for papers (now closed)

An “undercurrent” literally refers to a stream that runs beneath the surface of a body of water and, figuratively, the term has come to signify concealed tendencies and influences that defy dominant currents of thought. Whilst such subversiveness can be a welcome challenge to the intellectual and ideological status quo, the word “undercurrent” also regularly collocates with items that lend it a negative connotation – one thinks, for example, of “undercurrents of anxiety” or “undercurrents of concern,” phrases that both point to the suppressed nature of a hidden threat. These different associations – subsurface currents, movements that defy conventions, and concealed dangers – aptly capture how equally compelling and perilous it can be to “challenge the mainstream,” including in academia. This conference seeks to explore undercurrents in their different guises in the disciplines of English linguistics, literary criticism, and translation studies.

In the field of linguistics, we welcome submissions that challenge existing frameworks and propose case studies that deal with puzzling analytical, theoretical, or methodological issues. We are looking for innovative research and studies that deal with under-researched or neglected topics in English linguistics, both synchronic and diachronic.

In literary studies, we encourage proposals focusing on past and present challenges to mainstream literary and/or critical movements. Either through theoretical presentations or case studies, presentations may reflect on topics that include, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • How do newly established or emerging critical movements – e.g., environmental studies or fat studies – challenge (or perpetuate) dominant modes of thought, and what are the epistemological and methodological implications of such paradigm shifts?
  • Is “going mainstream” a challenge in itself? In the past, to what extent did the institutionalization of artistic or critical movements lead to their decline? From a contemporary perspective, are (by now well-established) fields such as postcolonial studies or gender studies in danger of reproducing orthodoxies rather than advancing knowledge?
  • How does the new relate to the traditional in literary studies, and vice-versa? This question may be examined through the analysis of contemporary or older literary works that experiment with form, that explore novel or original topics, that offer fresh approaches to conventional themes or, conversely, that challenge fashionable trends and promote more traditional worldviews.

The field of translation studies has undergone a series of “turns” since its inclusion into academia in the 1970s: the pragmatic (linguistic) turn, the cultural turn, the postcolonial turn, the empirical turn, the globalization turn, etc. These various trends have channelled translation studies into a sort of braided stream and defined it as an autonomous and highly cross-disciplinary scholarly field away from the backwater in the academy it used to be. The latest “turns,” such as the technological turn or the ecological turn, reflect the main, all-encompassing trends to be found in most areas of research. But do these recent developments display particular salient features within translation studies? How do these and other emerging trends run counter to previous theoretical discourses? Do they represent branching streams in a continuous flow or are they epistemological undercurrents generating new and challenging conceptual reframing? How do translation or interpreting practice(s) and theories overlap to anticipate and stimulate new directions?

In order to explore and foresee emerging “turns” in translation studies, we encourage papers tackling any topics related to the latest technological and paradigmatic developments and shifts (new technologies and automated translation, big data and corpus as CAT tools, ecology and sustainable translation practices, interspecies translation, inclusive translation, new translation economies such as localization or fan translation, translation in a time of global shifts of power…)  or related to new, redefining contours of the discipline itself, or “metaturns” (translation studies, translatology, adaptation studies, mediation studies…).