We invite you to attend this conference on Literatures in English, to be hosted by the Department of English at St. Olaf College this coming June 7-9.

Like many of its counterparts throughout the country, the St. Olaf English department, in its consideration of curriculum, texts and teaching appointments, has for some time now been adjusting to the remarkable growth of global literatures in English. Such literatures are not new, but their vigorous and accelerating proliferation in the last fifty years, their variety, distinctiveness, and creative originality, offer an invigorating challenge, and alternative, to traditional notions of a field based on British and American literatures.

As the attached program indicates, the conference is designed to explore the challenge, the alternatives and the opportunities offered by literatures in English, and to do so from multiple perspectives. Thus, we have sections on specific texts, authors, themes and regions. We consider the topic from the point of view of theory, curriculum and pedagogy. We look at the connection between reading literatures in English and teaching writing. We hear from faculty who, trained in historic fields, have extended their expertise and teaching to include more recent literatures in English. Several sections bear on the complex relationship between literatures in English and American literature, the latter considered both historically and in its more contemporary character as the voice of diverse immigrant groups. Literatures in English, as springing from a globally exported, colonially imposed, European language are not unique: in one section, we hear about the parallel cases of French and Spanish. We will conclude the conference with an open discussion for all participants, a chance to exchange new thoughts and final words.

We are delighted that Professor Gaurav Desai of Tulane University will give the conference’s opening plenary talk. As the author of Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the Colonial Library (Duke UP 2001), and co-editor, with Supriya Nair, of Postcolonialisms: An Anthology of Cultural Theory and Criticism (Rutgers UP 2005), his deep knowledge of post-colonialism will both initiate the conference and contribute to it thereafter.

To remind us of why we do what we do, we have scheduled two readings by creative writers. In his four volumes of poetry, most recently in Night Vision (2005), the Saint Lucian poet, Kendel Hippolyte, articulates a wide range of Caribbean preoccupations in vivid and supple verse. He is also, as we shall see, a dynamic performance reader of his own work.

Chitra Divakaruni, the Indian born, American domiciled writer, is perhaps best known for her novel Mistress of Spices (1997), but she has published many other works besides, including the short story collection, Arranged Marriage (1995) and Queen of Dreams (2004). Her writing explores, in particular, the predicament of Indian women in this country, caught in the perennial immigrant struggle between competing cultural, familial and emotional demands.

We hope you will choose to attend. We offer comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation (plus breakfasts) on campus; a single, comprehensive registration fee that covers all conference activities and meals; and for those flying into Minneapolis, an airport shuttle service.

View the conference program here.

To register, click here.

Registration Deadline: Monday, May 28

To learn more about St. Olaf and the city of Northfield, choose among the following links:

We look forward to welcoming you to the conference.

Jonathan Hill
Department of English
St. Olaf College