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Visions of Europe

Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates

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Gail K. Hart and Anke S. Biendarra

How do we as scholars envision Europe? Participants in a two-day research symposium bring a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary responses to this complex question. Distinguished US scholars address the European continent, its history and culture, and its politics in essays that range from the intellectual tradition to poetics and world literature, from the air war to plurilingualism, from religious symbolism to Europe’s colonial legacy. These contributions comprise a portrait or vision of Europe today; the challenges it faces, and the challenges we face in confronting it as a cultural and geopolitical entity.
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Aimé Césaire: Europe, the Caribbean, or Africa?

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Carrie Noland

What are the limits of Europe? Is there an integral Europe, a true “inside” intellectual space, or is this “inside” always penetrated by what lies beyond its geographical borders? Might it be possible to conceive of a Transnational, Transcontinental, or even Postcolonial European Studies? What would be the consequences for teaching Europe (or any of its languages and cultural traditions) if we were to re-think Europe through the postcolonial, or through the notions of the transnational and transversal? Could we imagine a New European Studies—a contemporary model of research for today’s academy—based precisely on these questions?

I like to think of European Studies, as an inter- or trans-discipline, a research field that opens up the possibility of juxtaposing various theoretical paradigms and historiographies, including formalist traditions of literary scholarship and materialistic approaches to cultural production. In the work presented below, I attempt to preserve the analytical tools for close reading that have been sharpened over the course of a century in the continental European language traditions while at the same time locating the literary text in its sociohistorical context. Ultimately, my goal is to generate what might be called a Materialist Formalism (or a Formalist Materialism, depending upon your emphasis) appropriate to a European Studies lit from within by Frankfurt School theory, cultural studies, and recent work on the colonial and postcolonial condition. My contention is that much work on the Black Atlantic has been occupied (and rightfully so) with...

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