Program in Comparative Literature

Ninth Annual

Go-Betweens: Crossing Borders

Friday, October 12th, and Saturday, October 13th at the University of Texas at Austin

Keynote Address by Dr. Jahan Ramazani (The University of Virginia)


The migrant and the adventure-seeker. The empire-builder and the exile. The diplomat, the blogger, and the student abroad. The go-between assumes a variety of identities but in each incarnation, this figure performs a vital role in cultural and literary studies. Translators and mediators of conflicting ideologies and languages, ‘go-betweens’ shatter our definitions of borders and boundaries. Through their movements, they invite us to explore space in radically new ways and to discover relationships among previously unconnected communities or people. As their presence becomes increasingly felt, critical theory has developed methods of interacting with their experiences. Conversations on cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, and planetarity all emerge from an understanding that a global world is not a homogenous one and that we as scholars have a responsibility, one that verges on an ethical obligation, to represent the multiplicity of experiences and identities that belong to each individual and place. The 9th Annual Graduate Conference in Comparative Literature embraces this challenge and asks participants to consider narratives by, about and for these border-crossing groups and individuals.

Proposals and Information:

The conference welcomes proposals from individuals and panels alike. Submissions for the conference should consider critically theoretical frameworks such as cosmopolitanism, transnationalism and planetarity or should use these approaches in their literary or cultural analyses. In keeping with the conference theme, we especially encourage the presentation of interdisciplinary or multilingual work.
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Narratives of movement, such as letters from abroad, the pilgrimage account, or autobiographies of exile
  • Languages of between-ness, such as translation practices, creole/pidgin/dialects and code switching
  • The advent of techno-savvy go-betweens, such as hackers, Twitter revolutionaries, and cyber-chatters
  • Engagements with problematic borders, such as Mexico-U.S. crossings or the Ramallah wall 
  • Forced migration, such as slavery, territorial conquests, or natural disasters
  • Geographical categories that accommodate in-between-ness, such as Hemispheric studies, the Black Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean
  • Go-betweens in conflict zones, such as messengers, guides, imbedded journalists, defectors
  • The city as a space for the between: re-thinking the metropolis, the cosmopolitan
  • Gender as border: in-between queer and gender studies
  • The hybridity of genres, such as the blending of fiction and non-fiction, Twitter poetry, and new narrative strategies
  • The politicized go-between, such as participants in protest movements, financial crises and revolutions
  • (De) forming canons: new methods of teaching language, culture and literatures

Panel Proposals may include 3 or 4 speakers and must be submitted by August 24th, 2012. Each member of the panel must submit an individual abstract online at The panel leader should then email with the proposed title, topic, moderator (if available) and presenters for the panel.
The deadline for Individual Abstracts is August 24th, 2012. All proposals should be submitted through our online application at
For additional information about the conference, please contact conference organizers Katie Logan and Martino Lovato at or visit UT’s Program in Comparative Literature website: