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CfP: AIA SEMINAR 2021: Hos(pi)tes: Hospitality, Hostility and “the Perils of Intimacy” across Cultures, University of Trieste, 1-2 July 2021

AIA editorial 0 1855


1-2 July, 2021, University of Trieste, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, DiSU

Call for Papers

Hos(pi)tes: Hospitality, Hostility and “the Perils of Intimacy” across Cultures

This seminar seeks to explore the theme of hospitality and its correlates of hostility and potentially threatening intimacy from the Renaissance to the present. Hospitality, hostility and intimacy are forms of human experience that are virtually intrinsic to any (representation of) human society, and relevant to the intersection of social and identity formations, migration, and citizenship.

As Émile Benveniste demonstrated, the etymology of hospitality reveals a semantic cluster of concepts that exist in a relation of contiguity and contradiction: host, guest and stranger. In Latin, the guest was both the hospes (guest) and the hostis (enemy). Hence, the intrinsic ambivalent proximity of hospitality and insecurity – what James Heffernan has called “the perils of intimacy”- is a fascinating dimension that affects all levels of social and cultural encounters. The evolution of the concept and the practice of hospitality in its attending dimensions of alterity, hostility, and intimacy deserves further scrutiny in its centrality to any experience of transculturation, social and ethnic mobility across countries in history. Recent studies have focused, alternatively, on the proximity of hospitality and hostility, treachery and intimacy (Heffernan), sympathy (Hollander) security (Clapp and Ridge), and alterity (Mc Nulty, Marais), but the complexity of Western conceptualizations of hospitality still invites a plurality of critical considerations.

The 2021 AIA seminar invites contributions on a range of topics related to the question of hospitality in the English-speaking world from a variety of perspectives including cultural history, cultural studies, literary and language studies.

The call aims at providing a forum for all early career scholars, including Ph.D students, postdoc fellows and researchers (research grant holders, RTD-A and RTD-B). Papers will be circulated in advance to engage the participants in a fruitful exchange and enrich the discussion during panels, and presentations will be limited to approximately 10 minutes – followed by a 30-minute discussion.

The seminar will feature a number of invited speakers from the national research community. A selected number of contributions will be considered for publication.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

• The literary representation of hospitality from Early Modern to contemporary literatures in English: tropes, tradition, subversion.

• Crossing thresholds: the trope of visitation and the vulnerability of the guest/host.

• The circulation and transformations of the idea of hospitality from the Early Modern period to the present.

• Femininity and hospitality: the figure of the hostess and gender alterity.

• Hospitality, hostility in relation to cultural formations across different media.

• The language of hospitality/hostility: from etymological proximity to linguistic forms of mediation and encounter.

• From page to screen: the theme of hospitality in film/tv adaptations.

• After “unconditional hospitality”: contemporary readings after (and beyond) Derrida.

If you wish to participate, please send a 300-word abstract and word abstract and word abstract and title, together with a very short bionote, by 30 April 2021 to Roberta Gefter Wondrich (gefter@units.it), Silvia Antosa (silvia.antosa@unikore.it) and Segreteria AIA (aiasegreteria@unict.it). A preliminary programme and webpage will be available as soon as possible.

For any queries and information, please contact Roberta Gefter and Silvia Antosa.


Derrida, Jacques. 2000. “Hostipitality”. Angelaki, 5:3: 3-18.

___, Dufourmantelle, Anne. 2000. Of Hospitality. Stanford: Stanford UP.

Heffernan, James. 2014.A. W. Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature, New Haven & London, Yale UP.

Hollander, Rachel. 2013.Narrative Hospitality in Late Victorian Fiction. Novel Ethics, Routledge.

Marais, Mike. 2009. Secretary of the Invisible. The idea of Hospitality in the Fiction of J.M. Coetzee. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

McNulty, Tracy. 2007. The Hostess. Hospitality, Femininity and the Expropriation of Identity. Minneapolis/London, University of Minnesota Press.

Ridge, Emily. 2016.”Threshold Anxieties: (In)hospitality, the English Novel and the Second World War”. Literature Compass 13/7: 481–490.