Alternative Modernities in Europe

7-8 June 2013, Transilvania University of Brașov,

the 2nd international conference  organized by Transilvania University’s Faculty of Letters and the Romanian Association of General and Comparative Literature (ALGCR)

Key-note speakers:

professor Virgil Nemoianu (Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.)  
professor Jean-Pierre Dubost (Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand)
professor Adriana Babeţi (Universitatea  de Vest, Timişoara)

Scientific board:

Prof. Toma Pavel (University of Chicago)
Prof. Jüri Talvet (University of Tartu)
Prof. Arturo Casas (University of Santiago de Compostela)
Prof. Mircea Martin (University of Bucharest)
Prof. Jean-Pierre Dubost (Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand)
Prof. Caius Dobrescu (University of Bucharest)

Conference topics:

- modernity, technology, democracy
- centers and peripheries
- irradiations, hybridizations, localizations
- delays and de-synchronizations; revivals and synchronizations
- the longevity and the fragility of traditions
- accelerations, decelerations
- experimental modernity, conservative modernity
- religion and secularization

This conference seeks to bring together new perspectives (comparative, interdisciplinary, and disciplinary) on the idea of modernity understood in its temporal dimension, as a way of thought or paradigm belonging to its specific times and places, but also understood in its metaphysical, conservative, trans-temporal dimension. In 1863 Baudelaire claimed in his essay, Peintre de la vie moderne, that “there is no modernity, there is only our modernity.” Taking this as a starting point we can differentiate between a generic paradigm called “modernity,” that of the grand Western narratives of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, and another “modernity,” an alternative one, belonging to specific cultures and specific times. We can identify such alternative modernities especially in Eastern Europe but not only, the problem is to see if these were indeed competing against the Western metanarratives, complementing them, or continuing them under various disguises.

Reflections on modernity usually become a self-referential discourse, one “that claims to testify for the entire age to which it is ascribed,” as Paul Ricoeur argued (La Memoire, L’Histoire, L’Oubli, 2000). However, if we manage to leave this self-referential character aside, can we still come up with ways to define the modern? Do the atomized concepts that founded its discourse still hold any value today? What is the fate of its legitimizing narratives? Jean-Francois Lyotard reinterpreted his own concept of a post-modern to mean a continuous rewriting of modernity, and he is met in this respect by Gianni Vattimo’s analyses of the late modern condition. If we take these perspectives to heart, then any reflection on modernity has to contain indeed also a defining attempt: a march forward always looking back, a continuous hermeneutical endeavor, necessarily self-referential.

Besides alternative modernities of specific times and places, we see that we are dealing with modernity itself continuously forming as its own alternative through this imperative self-referentiality. If we take modernity this way, as a continuous rewriting of itself, then it really remains to be seen what this particular stance, or intellectual attitude, brings forth in the twenty-first century.

Comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are very welcome. The papers will be published in a conference volume.
The conference fee is 70 Euros, payable to the conference secretary, Dr. Georgeta Moarcas, on arrival. The registration fee will cover lunch and dinner on June 7 and 8. Organizers will gladly assist with hotel reservations (the prices vary from 25 to 80 Euros per night). We can also provide a guided walking tour of Brasov on the day of arrival. 

Please e-mail proposals/abstracts for papers (max. 500 words) with a short CV to the following address: by May 20th, 2013. Please specify if you have any special A/V requirements for your presentation. Language of presentation: English, French and German.

The organizing committee:
Dr Rodica Ilie (Conference Chair, Department of Literature and Cultural Studies Director) Dr Andrei Bodiu (Graduate School Coordinator) Dr Adrian Lacatus (Dean, Faculty of Letters, Brasov) Dr Georgeta Moarcas Drd. Dan Botezatu

Train schedules
   City of Brasov