Call for Papers: “To Turn the World Against Itself”: Critical Perspectives on Nordic Poetry (FR)

Published 5 June 2024
Paul Klee: Abstraktion med reference til et blomstrende træ (1925)

The University of Caen announces the symposium “To Turn the World Against Itself”: Critical Perspectives on Nordic Poetry (20th and 21st Centuries), to be held on March 6-7, 2025. This symposium will be accompanied by a literary event devoted to contemporary Nordic poetry. The deadline for proposals is September 15, 2024.

The vitality of Nordic poetry is evident today. Major figures such as Inger Christensen and Tomas Tranströmer have been translated globally and are among the latest icons of the genre. Others, such as Sjón, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, and the 2023 Nobel Prize winner Jon Fosse, may be known primarily for other genres, but they are also poets, with this aspect of their work gaining recognition alongside their song lyrics, novels, and plays. The translation and reception of more experimental poetic practices, often linked to relational networks, confirm the impact of poets from the North in another way. Poets such as Ann Jäderlund, Cia Rinne, Jørn H. Sværen, and Pia Tafdrup have recently gained international reputations within a specialized community of readers and writers. However, the inscription of their writing within a Nordic historicity is often addressed vaguely as a geographical origin, and critics struggle to see a broader constellation of practices, projects, references, traditions, and networks behind these few names.

The symposium aims to explore this tension, considering Nordic poetry as a field shaped by collective dynamics while also focusing on individual works to examine their contributions. This analysis will not only cover their respective fields but also their impact in a wider context, related to specific modes of circulation and reception on a European or global scale, whose links with the Nordic field remain to be analyzed.

To this end, the symposium proposes a reflection along five lines, with possible intersections:

The Nordic Modernist Tradition 

Over the 20th century, there have been periods of questioning and renewal within Nordic poetry, resulting in canonical figures and shared aesthetic values across national borders. This line of inquiry will explore whether a systematic characterization of Nordic modernist poetry is possible and its relationship with other continental or transcontinental traditions.

The Impact of the Avant-Garde and the Legacy of Committed Poetry

This line will examine the Nordic specificity of avant-garde movements and their influence on contemporary experimental poetry, including multimedia works at the crossroads of text and performance.

The Importance of Religious Material

This line will explore the increasing presence of religious images, motifs, and vocabulary in Nordic poetry over the last twenty years, analyzing its potential connections to Lutheran traditions and its role in a secularized society.

The Role of the Subject of Enunciation in the Social World

This line will investigate practices that experiment with performance and authorial figures, considering whether a lyrical subject persists in various poetic forms and its implications for identity and voice.

Modes of Production, Circulation, and Reception

This line will explore the development of independent publishing structures in the 21st century, their opposition to commercial publishing, and their role in redefining literary publication and circulation at an international level.

The symposium will be accompanied by a literary event devoted to contemporary Nordic poetry, featuring Scandinavian and Finnish authors.

Please send proposals for papers, up to 300 words long, accompanied by a bio-bibliographical note in Word format, to and by September 15, 2024.


French and English

Organizing Committee:

  • Harri Veivo (ERLIS, University of Caen Normandie)
  • Emmanuel Reymond (MGNE, University of Strasbourg)
  • Diane Chateau Alaberdina (MGNE, University of Strasbourg)
  • Caroline Bérenger (ERLIS, University of Caen Normandie)