Values in Literature and the Value of Literature

An international conference

12-14 September 2012, Helsinki, Finland

Conference venue

Tieteiden talo (House of Science and Letters) – see map.

Address: Kirkkokatu 6, 00170 Helsinki.

The registration period has now ended.

Please note that the letters of invitation are only available to conference speakers after the conference fee has been received.

Note to the speakers

All sessions consist of three 20 minute presentations followed by 10 minutes for  discussion  after each paper. All lecture halls have a computer with Internet access and PowerPoint.

 Call for Papers

Debates on the value of literature have been recurrent in the long history of literary cultures. The centrality of literature as a cultural phenomenon has provoked discussions about its value as such as well as about the values it promotes and the uses it can be put to serve. Even the very attempts that were made to disengage aesthetic from ethical values ultimately served to accentuate the debate.  But the issues debated and the answers given are subject to change and we may well ask how the matter should be seen today. What challenges do our globalised and multimedialised culture bring to the evaluation of literature? How do the new ways of reading literature within the academia affect our evaluations?  If, with the advent of new theoretical approaches, a certain “hermeneutics of suspicion” has made its way into literary studies, how does it affect our ways of analysing the values (represented) in literature as well as our views of the value of literature?  And is it also time to re-evaluate our ways of reading and “to risk alternate forms of aesthetic engagement”, as Rita Felski suggests?

The conference is inspired by recent and forthcoming contributions to the topic by our keynote speakers and partner institutions (Rita Felski’s Uses of Literature, the volume Literature and Values edited by Sibylle Baumbach, and Herbert Grabes and Ansgar Nünning in Giessen Contributions to the Study of Culture). We welcome papers addressing issues of the value of literature both in general terms and focusing on particular texts or historical debates as well as papers discussing particular works in terms of the representation of values.

Our keynote speakers are:

Professor Rita Felski, Department of English, University of Virginia

Professor Angela Locatelli, English Literature, University of Bergamo

Professor Vera Nünning, Chair of English philology, University of Heidelberg

 The conference is organised by the Finnish Doctoral Programme for Literary Studies and the Finnish Literary Research Society and belongs to the conference programme of the International PhDnet Literary and Cultural Studies network.