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CFP: The Cartographic Imagination 1945-1980 (Paris, 18-19 May 18)

A two-day international conference funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, in conjunction with the Départment d’Etudes Anglophones at the University of Strasbourg and the Centre for American Studies at the University of Kent.

Keynote speakers: Pamela Lee (Stanford University), David Herd (University of Kent) and Stephen Collier (Simon Fraser University)

This conference investigates spatial representations and practices in postwar US literature and art, and their intersection with mapping. We are particularly interested in the ways in which American space is constructed, imagined, reconfigured, displaced, and questioned in writing and in artistic form. The conference will examine the specificity of the literary and artistic appropriation of cartographic tropes, as well as the possible points of convergence and divergence of literature and art in relation to mapping and the material culture of mapping.

Art and literature have rarely been treated together with cartography in the same equation. Literature and mapping, on the one hand, and art and mapping, on the other, have already been discussed in bilateral configurations, but this conference attempts to place them side by side, and ideally to inaugurate a dialogue between the two, with the aim to encourage the articulation and confrontation of literary, artistic, and cartographic thinking.

In the past decades there has been an ever-growing body of work on the intersections of literature, art, and geography (“the geohumanities” and “spatial turn”), and several exhibitions on “art and mapping”. The conference aims to draw on the conceptual foundations that have begun to coalesce around the figure of the map and to bring together these disciplinary strands. The conference would also like to offer an opportunity to reflect on the reasons for the explosion of the interest in maps and mapping in literary texts and artistic practice after World War II.

We invite proposals for papers and panels that address maps and mapping in postwar American art, literature, or both. Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

- Art and the material culture of cartography
- Cartographic inadequacy as aesthetic premise
- Earthworks: the dialectics of site and non-site
- Grids
- Contingent mapping: walking as an aesthetic practice
- Artist’s books and mapping
- The legacy of Situationism in the United States
- Cold War ideologies and mapping in art and literature
- Maps and American imperialism
- Mapping the medium
- Mapping as metaphor
- Counter-mapping
- The cartographic trope in theory
- The limits of the cartographic imagination
- The aesthetics of maps
- The significance of cartography for individual artists and writers

Please submit an individual proposal of no more than 350 words or an outline for a 3 paper panel proposal to by 30 November, 2017. Papers will be limited to 20 minutes. Please include your name, a short bio, and email address in your proposal.

Registration for the conference will be free of charge. Registered students may indicate that they wish to be considered for a small bursary to offset costs of travel and accommodation.

Please email enquiries to


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