This site gathers all abstracts that were accepted for presentation at the "New Perspectives on Imagology" conference, including the plenary lecture by Joep Leerssen and the public reading by Doron Rabinovici.

You can download the full Book of Abstracts (pdf) here.



Plenary Lecture

Nationalism and National-Self-Images: Character into Ideology | Joep Leerssen

It is a truism that ethnotypes, as part of a discursive and rhetorical articulation and construction of Self and Other, are ideological. One conclusion that can be drawn from this is less often encountered: that imagology, the critical analysis of this discourse and rhetoric, has particular relevance for, and applicability to, the study of political history, especially the political history of nationalism. Political historians, even historians of political thought, usually neglect insights from discourse analysis or literary history. In this lecture, I analyse nationalism as the political instrumentalization of ethnotypes. I will give some textual examples moving from propagandistic writing to diplomatic positions in international crises and national self-positionings of statesmen.


Joep Leerssen is Professor of Modern European Literature at the University of Amsterdam. His work deals with stereotypes of national character (Imagology, ed. w. Manfred Beller, 2007; www.imagologica.eu), romantic historicism, and the transnational history of cultural nationalism (National Thought in Europe, 3rd ed., Amsterdam, 2010). He is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (ernie.uva.nl; book edn. Amsterdam 2018).

Public Reading

Die Außerirdischen – Roman (engl. Extraterrestrials – Novel) | Doron Rabinovici

The news broadcast one morning by all stations is alarming: an extraterrestrial power has conquered the world overnight. Sol, co-founder of an online magazine, is immediately convinced by the validity of the news item, his wife Astrid is skeptical. After the first global panic has subsided, updates transpire: The aliens are docile; shyly, they avoid all contact; they bring prosperity and peace. There's just one small catch - they are asking for humans volunteering to be sacrifices. Games are hosted all around in order to determine the chosen ones. Participants are promised huge financial advantages.

With a quickly established talk show, Sol's online magazine is up and close to the events. But when Sol's young neighbor Elliot volunteers for the games, Sol and Astrid are put to the test. And the questions become urgent: Who shares the blame, who profits, who revolts?


Doron Rabinovici, writer, essayist, historian, born in 1961 in Tel Aviv. He lives in Vienna since 1964 and has been awarded numerous literature prizes, most recently the Clemens-Brentano-Prize and the Jean-Améry-Prize, both in 2002.

Section 1 | Rethinking Imagological Key Terms

Images as Clusters of Meaning | Melis Menent

Images both express and hinder the reception of meaning. As a source of transmission, an image gives a certain message. As an end result, it is a product. An image gathers different messages surrounding it: the social surrounding, the linguistically coded meaning with semantic content. Many different clusters of meaning(s), captured in sounds and words at one level, in institutions and socio-political structures at another level, form ongoing relationships with one another. This is a small universe of contents. Le regard provides a gaze with which the viewer directs the inquiry of her understanding toward the sender of the message- that is the image. I maintain that images, as clusters of meaning, interact with one another in more ways than one. Both the sending of the message, as well as the reception of the message vary depending on the person who is doing the work of understanding. As an individual human infant enters into the world of social relationships through human interaction, so do the images enter into relationships with one another as sources of meaning. National identity provides one of these images with which an agency can enter into this sphere of interactions. In my work on Constitutional Patriotism, I argue that the nation-state provides one such cluster for meaning. As an image, a national identity both provides meaning and hinders communication at the same time. Different from static images, it moves and acts differently at different times and contexts. The narratives of identity, spread over long periods of time, transmit messages about the collective self from the past to the present. A deconstructive approach helps to establish a reasoning as to why we have what we have now. The way to move forward, however, can be a mix of a normative attitude together with an impressionistic one. The latter one belongs to the arts broadly. An interpretation of the present moment offers an anchor between the communicative process of the past and the future.


Melis Menent has interdisciplinary research interests. She has studied Social and Political Thought at University of Warwick, Contemporary Societies, Lettres and Immigration at University of Sorbonne Nouvelle and is currently working toward getting her PhD in Social and Political Thought at University of Sussex. Her thesis is on Constitutional Patriotism.

Towards a Critical Imagology | Maria Weilandt

In my talk, I am going to propose some reflections on the distinctive role of imagology within the wider field of an interdisciplinary research on stereotypes. Building on my own research on the topic, I’d propose the role of imagology to be threefold:

First and foremost, I follow Joep Leerssen in his insistence upon the literary focus of imagology. Centering imagological studies on the literariness of a given text means, thus, not to focus solely on practices of stereotyping in the text but analysing the way that a stereotype is shaped by the text and does shape the text in return. Focussing on stereotypes as media specific and performed (not represented) in a specific literary text may also prove to be helpful in making visible the ambivalences inherent to stereotypes.

Secondly, I am proposing a methodological approach to imagology based on a combination of intersectionality and postclassical narratology. Thereby, I am suggesting a new perspective on the ‘nationality’ of stereotypes, which traditionally is central to imagological studies. Conceiving national stereotypes as intersectional dynamics per se, I conclude the ‘nationality’ they produce to be a ‘nationality’ that is always internally constructed by notions of gender, sexuality, class, religion, age, ability and other identity categories. This complex and multi-layered construct, I argue, is formed narratively and can be analysed by applying methods derived from postclassical narratology.

This approach I will illustrate with examples from my doctoral thesis on the stereotype of the modern Parisian woman, the so-called “Parisienne”.

Thirdly, and in conjunction with this conference, I’d like to encourage an imagology that understands itself as a theoretical and self-reflexive project. This consists of a constant re-evaluating of its methods, theories, concepts (Image? Stereotype?) and the limits of our own research (e.g. the situatedness of the scholar).


Maria Weilandt is an academic researcher and doctoral candidate at the Department of General and Comparative Literature (Institute for Arts and Media) at the University of Potsdam. Her doctoral thesis is called "Die Erfindung der Pariserin. Narrativität, Visualität und Intersektionalität als Paradigmen der Stereotypenforschung" (engl.: "The Invention of the Parisian Woman. Narrativity, Visuality and Intersectionality as Paradigms for the Research on Stereotypes"). From 2014-2016 she has been a doctoral fellow at the DFG Research Training Centre “Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge”. Her research interests are Practices of Stereotyping, Visual Cultures, Graphic Literatures, Intersectionality and Queer Theory.

Section 2 | Intersectional Approaches to Imagology: The Multiple Entanglements of Ethnotypes

Gender: A Useful Category of/for Imagology?

To See the Gender of the Other: Introduction of the Imagological Model Alter/Altera – Alius/Alia | Barbara Ludwiczak

Jean-Marc Moura in his work L’Europe littéraire et l’ailleurs (Literary Europe and Elsewhere) introduces imagological dichotomy Alter/Alius. These categories denote the distinction between a representative of other culture, ethnicity or religion (Alter) and a stranger utterly alienated from any group (Alius) who has predominantly symbolic or mythical function as defined by Małgorzata Świderska in Comparativist Imagology and the Phenomenon of Strangeness.

The aim of my article is to present the modification of Moura’s model, designating not only otherness/strangeness but also gender by using Latin feminine pronominal adjectives – Altera and Alia. Therefore the new model consists of four imagological categories, Alter/AlteraAlius/Alia, making gender clearly discernible. It is devised to indicate how gender can influence the Otherness and make a difference in perception of either the representation of other culture (stereotype) or alienation. In this new model the categories of Alius/Alia are broadened. Such sources of alienation include mental health problems or even characterological differences.

The first part of my paper is dedicated to the introduction of the model. In the second part I present how the new categories can be applied to the analysis of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The novel has been the subject of canonical discussion, initiated by the famous work Madwoman in the Attic... by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar and continued by such authors as Ania Loomba and Gayatri Spivak. I show how Alter/AlteraAlius/Alia model can contribute to the debate, combining feminist and post-colonial approach. I analyze not only Bertha Rochester to whom the Alia category is applicable, but also the figure of her brother as Alius. Moreover, my additional aim is to prove that Cecile Varens fulfils the Altera category. The third part of the paper contains the overall conclusion.


Barbara Ludwiczak holds a PhD in literary studies, obtained at University of Rzeszów. She has a M.A. in Classics and wrote books popularizing ancient mythology. Her area of interest includes imagology, comparative literature and postcolonialism. Published articles include: ‘Never give in any way to an Oriental’ – the image of the Other in Anthony Trollope’s letters (Acta Litteraria Comparativa, 2015), "What is the cry even of the Canadians”: Resistance towards Imperial Paternalism and US “Braggadocio” in Anthony Trollope’s North America (TransCanadiana, 2016). She is a co-editor of post-conference publication Comparable-Incomparable: the comparative method. Barbara Ludwiczak participated in Congress 2015, Capital(s) of Comparative Literature in Ottawa.

The Myth of the Orient in Flaubert’s 'Voyage en Égypte' and Bachmann’s 'Das Buch Franza' | Walter Wagner

From October 1849 to July 1850 Gustave Flaubert, along with his friend Maxime du Camp, travelled across Egypt to Sudan, visiting archaeological sites and gathering various cultural impressions which were published in his posthumous Voyage en Égypte. Accompanied by Adolf Opel, Ingeborg Bachmann went to the same countries in 1964, reaching Wadi Halfa – just like Flaubert – as the southernmost point and using his travelogue as guidebook.  Her experience resulted in the so-called Wüstenbuch, which was given up and served as material for “Die ägyptische Finsternis”, the final chapter of the fragmentary novel Das Buch Franza.

The aim of this study is to analyse and compare heterostereotypes of the Orient in the above-mentioned corpus and to find out a) in how far Flaubert resorts to stereotypical representations of the Orient and b) Bachmann perpetuates, transforms or revises Flaubert’s imagological discourse. The paper will show that Voyage en Égypte draws a reductionist picture of Egyptian life and mentality which is characterised by sexualization, violence, infantility, irrationality and primitivism, suggesting civilizational inferiority. Flaubert’s journey is mainly a search for the phantasmatic figure of the dark-skinned Oriental woman as sexual object and epitome of lasciviousness and seductiveness and who he finds in brothels.

Bachmann’s fictionalized Egyptian impressions overcome Flaubert’s implicit idea of white superiority by antithetically emphasizing the inferiority of the white race. Das Buch Franza criticizes the exploitation of material and historical resources as a result of ongoing economic and cultural imperialism. Bachmann transcends Flaubert’s masculine Orientalism, denunciating white males as aggressors of women, both white and coloured, as well as postcolonial subjects.

Summarizing one can say that Flaubert embodies the ideal type of the culturally and economically dominant white male colonizer whereas Bachmann combines aspects of the postcolonial and gender discourses. 


Walter Wagner is a lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna. He holds an M.A. in French and English, a PhD in French Literature from the University of Salzburg,a DEA in Comparative Literature from the University of Paris III and is Privatdozent in Comparative Literature. He has published widely on twentieth-century French literature and Franco-Austrian literary relations and is the author of La conception de l’amour-amitié dans l’œuvre de de Saint-Exupéry (1996), “Franzose wäre ich gern gewesen.” Zur Rezeption französischer Literatur bei Thomas Bernhard (1999), Ökologische Sensibilität und Naturerfahrung in der französischen Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Jean Giono – Marguerite Yourcenar – Julien Gracq (2016).

Ethnotypes and Beyond: Colonial, Feminist, and Queer Interventions

Imagological Intersections: English, Chinese and Macanese Ethnotypes in the Works of Two Portuguese Writers: Maria Ondina Braga and Rodrigo Leal de Carvalho | Dora Nunes Gago

The Portuguese writers Maria Ondina Braga (1932-2003) and Rodrigo Leal de Carvalho (1932-) both lived and wrote in Macau, a small territory  in the South of China and under Portuguese administration from the 15th century until 1999. In this paper, based on the theoretical contributions of Joep Leerssen, Hugo Dyserinck, D-H Pageaux, Gayatri Spivak, Bhabha and Said among others, we will analyse and discuss the mechanisms behind the formation of ethnotypes, stereotypes and national characters in the context of Macau. Looking at how social identities intersect with relative systems of domination or discrimination such as race, nationality and ethnicity, we will use two novels as the starting point for our analysis: Rodrigo Leal de Carvalho’s Ao Serviço de Sua Majestade - uma história de amor (1996) and Maria Ondina Braga’s Nocturno em Macau (1991). Crossing various theoretical perspectives, we will also discuss how linguistic, cultural and political barriers are also important in drawing the image of the Other.


Dora Nunes Gago is an Assistant Professor of Literature in the Department of Portuguese at the University of Macau (China). She holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures (specialism in Comparative Literature) from the NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal. She has taught at the University of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and she was an FCT post-doctoral researcher at the University of Aveiro and a visiting post doc at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has published a considerable number of articles in international reviews and chapters in books. Of note among her publications are Imagens do estrangeiro no Diário de Miguel Torga (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for Science and Technology), as well as several books of short stories and poetry.

Representation of Balkan Women in War: Victim Feminism in 'Grbavica' and 'In the Land of Blood and Honey' | Ivana Drmic

The wars in former Yugoslavia have prominently appeared in global media, art, film, as well as literature. Particularly so in the American film industry: for instance in films such as Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), Behind Enemy Lines (2001), and In den land of Blood and Honey (2011), which all perpetuate the clichés and stereotypes usually associated with the Balkans. Accordingly, my research looks at how the U.S. film industry creates stereotypes about the cultural space of the Balkans and how these stereotypes are produced in filmic representations. I particularly point out how ethnotypes, victimhood, racial and sexual differences are represented and how they affect the film audience and result in the formation of new stereotypes. Since the Balkan crisis became the subject of extensive cinematic interest for local filmmakers from the former Yugoslavia as well, my talk will discuss the ex-Yugoslav filmmakers’ responses to the stereotypes represented in Hollywood cinema. I will focus on how gender, in particular victim feminism is depicted in Jasmila Žbanić's Grbavica (2006) and In the land of blood and honey (2011). With regards to Said’s concept of Orientalism, Todorova’s concept of Balkanism and the “emancipatory drive toward Europe” (Iardonova 2006, p. 9) of the former Yugoslav countries, the question of self-representation and Otherness is reflected in each of the respective national cinemas. The analysis of the cinematic response to the Western gaze and its use of stereotypes can crucially contribute to the rethinking of the images of the Balkans.


Ivana Drmic is a PhD student at the English department of the University of Bonn. Her doctoral dissertation explores the representation of the Balkans in American cinema. She holds a Master’s Degree in English and American Literature and Culture, Modern History and Philosophy from the University of Bonn. Her Master’s thesis compared the representation of the Wars in former Yugoslavia in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, intercultural studies and film studies. In 2017, she was a visiting research scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Self and Other in Queer Arabic Literature | Kifah Hanna

This paper employs Imagology to examine the emergent genre of queer Arabic literature and its positionality in the global market. I demonstrate how contemporary Arab writers, such as Rashid al-Da῾if, Hoda Barakat, Saleem Haddad, and Mohamed Abdelnaby, foreground a sexuality discourse in which they explore the dynamics between hetero-images and auto-images in matters of queerness. These writers employ the novel as a tool to investigate the emerging (homo)sexual consciousness at the turn of the twenty-first century in East Mediterranean Arab countries especially Lebanon and Egypt. Although their portrayal of homoerotic desire and sexual practices are derived from and reflective of the cultural and socio-political dynamics of their Arab societies, it simultaneously challenges predominant (local and foreign) stereotypes and positions these desires in relation to the anxiety about the Other (i.e., the Western, heteronormative, masculine, or feminine Other).

Through a careful analysis of al-Da῾if’s What makes a Man?: Sex Talk in Beirut and Berlin (2015), Barakat’s The Stone of Laughter (1995), Haddad’s Guapa (2016), and Abdelnaby's In the Spider's Room (2016), I identify the trans-cultural/national dimensions of these desiring narratives. On the one hand, Barakāt’s and Abdelnaby's homoerotic narratives defy preconceptions of their foreignness and licentiousness. On the other hand, al-Da῾if’s and Haddad’s narrative seek to explore local “auto-images” in relation to the “hetero-images” of the Western Other. This paper suggests that by writing homoerotic desire across cultural and national limitations, these writers reimagine queer theory beyond Eurocentric Western boundaries. By doing so, they point toward a possible future of queer Arabic literature in the global market.


Kifah Hanna is an Associate Professor of Language and Culture Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut, USA. She earned her MSc and PhD in Comparative and General Literature and Middle East Studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK. She is the author of Feminism and Avant-Garde Aesthetics in the Levantine Novel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Her work appeared in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. Her research interests broadly include twentieth and twenty-first century Arabic literature, feminist and queer theory, (trans-)nationalism, (trans-)cultural studies, cinema studies, postcolonial theory, war literature, comparative literature, and world literature.

Section 3 | Imagology in a Transnational, Post-Colonial, Globalized World

Diasporic Perspectives and National Stereotypes

Migrating Images of the North | Johan Schimanski

Research on images of the North has established a repertoire of images based mainly on travel writing, mythologies, policy documents and literary fictions featuring local or metropolitan viewpoints. Such topoi often combine an imagology of Northerness with discourses of arcticity, winterliness, Nordicity etc. This paper sets out to map images of northernness in postcolonial migrant literature featuring viewpoints originating from the global ”South”, examining a number of fictional or autobiographical public narratives written by migrants to Norway arriving in Norway as children or young adults, including books by Amal Aden, Maria Amelie, Romeo Gill, and Sara Azmeh Rasmussen. Tying in to research on changing border concepts in migrant narratives which took place within within the EU FP7 EUBORDERSCAPES project, the paper asks to what degree various topoi of northerness contribute to bordering processes in the texts, and whether these processes in turn produce new images of northernness. Are North and South purely framed in terms of difference in these texts? Is Northernness in migration narratives ascribed to specific cultural values? Are the extended and repeated border crossings these narratives figure connected to specifically Northern territories, as suggested by the title of the collection, Neste stopp Nordpolen: Nye nordmenn – nye stemmer (Next Stop the North Pole: New Norwegians – New Voices, 2005)? Or do images in migration discourse challenge methodological nationalism and eurocentricism?


Johan Schimanski is Professor of Comparative Literature and Head of Research at the Department of Literature, European Languages and Area Studies at the University of Oslo, and part-time research Professor of Cultural Encounters at the University of Eastern Finland. His research interests include border poetics, Arctic discourses, postcolonialism, national identity, science fiction, literary museums. Recent publications include (with Ulrike Spring) an interdisciplinary monograph on images of the Arctic in 1870s Central Europe, Passagiere des Eises: Polarhelden und arktische Diskurse 1874 (2015) and (edited with Stephen Wolfe) a collaboration on key concepts within border aesthetics, Border Aesthetics: Concepts and Intersections (2017).

Imagined Communities and National Stereotypes in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 'Americanah' | Kata Gyuris

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013) tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, two Nigerian youngsters who decide to flee their homeland and pursue university studies in the US and the UK, respectively. Through a number of locations and distinctive communities, Adichie gives the reader a broad view of the myriad ways in which one’s origins, race and social standing can determine one’s perception of the surrounding world and vice versa.

The paper looks at how imagined communities (Anderson) are created in the novel, including Nigerian diasporas in the States and in the UK, as well as the various socio-economic groups present in Lagos before the protagonists leave and after they return. These communities and the way the characters act within them are often based on heavily stereotyped character traits and expectations; however, Adichie displays just as often her two protagonists’ bewilderment and confusion in the face of these behaviors. The paper will argue, on the one hand, that these imagined communities and the way they affect both the protagonists and their perception of the world act as organizing elements in the novel. On the other hand, it will also posit that by opting to portray such a wide array and such nuanced images of communities, Adichie provides a clearer understanding of how diaspora identities and national stereotypes are created, made to function, and seen through the expectations of these imagined communities.


Kata Gyuris is a PhD candidate at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. She spent the last two semesters of her PhD at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. In her research, she focuses on contemporary Anglophone and Francophone African fiction, particularly on the interrelation between space and violence with a keen interest in landscapes, cityscapes, and war literature. Thanks to various grants, she has done research in Paris, Utrecht, Kigali and London (SOAS). She is co-founder of the Narratives of Culture and Identity Research Group at ELTE.

The European Conception of Imagology Seen from Its Borders

Immigration and Imagology or Nationalisms Abandoned | Manfred Beller

When the immigrant comes into a foreign country he is spected by the natives a stranger. Simultaneously he assumes the part of a spectant whose mind is full of promises and expectations towards the new land. But his main preoccupations are not the collective  ideas of ethnic or national stereotypes and prejudices. He is much more interested to sustain the conditions of everyday life and to overcome his own inner problems: the sentiment of homelessness, the questionableness of identity, the different rhythms of time, the everlasting myth of return home, and first of all to dominate the other language. That will be exemplified by literary texts and theoretic considerations of the Indian Salman Rushdie, the Marrocan Tahar Ben Jelloun, the Syrian Rafik Schami and other authors of Turkish, Arab, and African origins.

The immigrated poets and writers  have left behind their native ambience and customs. They describe the conditions of their new existence construing an other spiritual home in their second language, the language of the host country; but its historical background with all the traditional antagonisms and differentiations of the European nations are foreign to them. The situation of life and thinking In between two ore more cultures creates the sentiment of a certain rootlessness. The big towns and cultural metropoles are exerting the strongest attraction reflected in a multiple cluster of contrasting motifs and images. Salman Rushdie characterised their position as the "frontierless nation" and Homi Bhabha postulated the idea of a "Third space" that fulfills the hope of a cosmopolitan Utopia by literary means.


Manfred Beller was Professor of German Language and Literature at the Italian Universities of Pavia, Messina, and Bergamo. He has published widely on German and Comparative Literature in the fields of Thematology and Imagology, including Eingebildete Nationalcharaktere. Vorträge und Aufsätze zur literarischen Imagoglogie (Göttingen, 2006), Imagology. The cultural construction and literary representation of national characters. A critical survey, ed. by M. Beller and J. Leerssen (Amsterdam - New York, 2007), and recently The Rhine. National Tensions, Romantic Visions, ed. by M. Beller and J. Leerssen (Leiden - Boston, 2017).

Reimagining the Baltic Literary Studies: Potential for Imagology | Laura Laurušaitė

As a method of literary analysis, comparative imagology was institutionalized in the academic centres of “the first world,” but in the 21st century it entered the field of vision of the cultures belonging to the “second” cluster of European literature—the Balkan and the Baltic countries, eastern Slavs, and the like.

On the map of nations drawn by the most influential literary imagologists (Imagology 2007), in which each nation is introduced as a case study, the Baltic region and the national character are unrepresented. We would like to hope that by doing this imagologists are not questioning the very fact of the independence of the Baltic countries, but see them as passive, small actors in a bigger game and the mainstream debate. In order to refute these arguments of the normative Western discourse, the countries of the Baltic region enter the struggle of narratives for their self-definition and the inclusion of their independent histories in the culture of European memory, and attempt to define their identification as a result of the confrontation of East/West identities.

Imagologists perceive a nation as a construct affected by sociocultural and geopolitical circumstances, or, in Leerssen’s words, as a group of individuals that is inter-subjectively associated by common self-identification caused by a common feeling of cultural and historical continuity (Imagology 2007, 379). I would like to pose a problematic question: how long should this “common” historical and cultural continuity last in order to qualify as a sufficient base for cultural and psycho-social identification? Where should the Baltic countries position themselves when their history is more affected by interruptions than by continuity? What are the most productive ways to employ imagology in the Baltic literary studies?


Dr. Laura Laurušaitė (1981) is a researcher at the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore. Her theoretical interests involve comparative literature, postcolonialism and imagology. She is an author of a monograph, Tarp nostalgijos ir mimikrijos: Lietuvių ir latvių pokario išeivijos romanai (Between Nostalgia and Mimicry: Lithuanian and Latvian Post-war Émigré Novels) (2015) and the chief editor of the collection of papers Imagology Profiles: The Dynamics of National Imagery in Literature (forthcoming). Presently, L. Laurušaitė is working on her second monograph “Literature, Mobility, Imago: Lithuanian and Latvian migration experiences in the 21st Century.”

Transnational Imagology of National Stereotypes: The European Centre-Periphery Logic in Spain and the Balkans | Josip Kešić

Although imagology has mainly concerned itself with the deconstruction of national stereotypes, it tends to group and classify its working material along national lines. This metholological nationalism fails to account for the transnational diffusion of national images, their intratextual occurrence as cross-cultural relations, and the fact that 'national characterizations are often specific instances and combinations of generic moral polarities' (Leerssen 2007: 29).

This paper approaches national images from a transnational standpoint by comparing two similar yet hardly ever connected cases of intra-European Othering:  Spain and Croatia. In both cases there are structural similarities in the ways in which their Europeanness is questioned, both internally and externally, rendering them symbolically peripheral. Whether or not this common ‘periphery problem’ is externally imposed or internally rejected, it consists of 1) the attribution of similar traits considered 'un-European' (e.g. passion, violence, multi-ethnicity and backwardness), and,  2) the presence of Western Europe as a central frame of reference. In order to illustrate these patterns, this paper presents various post-1980s examples from the fields of literature, cinema, and theatre.

The main argument of this paper is that national images in Spain and the Balkans operate according to a transnational European centre-periphery logic. Due to its comparative lens, this paper contributes to a more transnational understanding of national identity formation. Yet rather than bypassing the role of national images, this transnational perspective shows that they are constituted by and entangled in an European centre-periphery dynamic.


Josip Kešić is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES), and a lecturer at the European Studies department, both at the University of Amsterdam. Currently, he is finishing his doctoral research with the working title European Peripheries: Stereotyping and (self)characterization in Spanish and South-East European cultural representations. Supervised by Joep Leerssen, this PhD project scrutinizes how in contemporary Spain and former-Yugoslavia, national self-images are articulated in relation to Europe at large. The topics of his primary interest are imagology and cultural and political nationalism, especially in the contexts of the Balkans, Spain and the Netherlands.

Section 4 | Stereotypes, Nation Building, Landscape Depiction – How Different Genres Interact with Imagology

Rethinking Traditional Imagological Genres

A Production-Oriented Imagology: Genre, Nation and English Romanticism | Ulrike Kristina Köhler

Based on central findings of my doctoral thesis, the paper explores the relation between genre and nation by looking at the following four genres in their epoch-specific manifestation in the Romantic period: political essay, travelogue, Gothic novel and ballad. It showcases that it is the interplay of explicit representations of nations such as national stereotypes or topoi and generic elements without a national connotation which generate the genre-specific variation of an English self-image in all its nuances. The generic elements without a national connotation may be as diverse as the narrative situation, stylistic devices, the addressee and intertexts. Furthermore, the paper illustrates in which way an imagological analysis can benefit from employing the close-reading method of production-oriented text analysis in order to capture all generic elements and their possible functions with regard to the evocation of an English self-image. Simultaneously, the paper reaches beyond the inspection of the intrinsic generic texture and consequently takes an extratextual context into consideration. With regard to the theoretical framework, the investigation integrates into its analytical tool kit, insights and terminology of narratology, reception theory, and cultural memory studies. Moreover, it employs the terminology of text linguistics and rhetoric.


Ulrike Kristina Köhler holds a postdoctoral position at the Institute of English Studies at Leuphana University, Lüneburg and was the recipient of a Leuphana PhD scholarship. She graduated from Goethe University Frankfurt, where she studied German, English and Italian literature. Her research interests focus on imagology, English Romanticism, the interface of literary and musical culture of the late eighteenth century and on aspects of children’s literature.

Köh­ler, U. K. (2011). “Harry Pot­ter: Natio­nal Hero and Natio­nal Heroic Epic.” Inter­na­tio­nal Rese­arch in Child­ren's Literature, 4 (1), 15-28.

A Study on The Travel Journal and Pictures: Danlin Li’s Image of the Foreign | Wenjun Zhu

Li Danlin (1846-1916), a Cantonese painter in late Qing Dynasty of China, traveled around the world from 1891 and composed two volumes of The Travel Journal and Pictures, which consists of four parts: the first part includes hand-painted maps; in the second part, he portrayed the images of people in foreign lands with explanatory texts; the third part is made up of essays and poems comparing the West with China; in the last part he narrates mysterious anecdotes in remote areas.

The research evaluates Li’s travelogue in reference to the system of pre-modern Chinese extraterritorial travel narratives and from the perspective of imagology, with regard to Daniel-Henri Pageaux’s and Jean-Marc Moura’s theories. Li adopted the form of pictures to express his keen interest in exoticism and alterity, which can be associated with Victor Segalen’s opinions on exoticism. This also follows the tradition entailed from the Classic of Mountains and Seas, an ancient Chinese painting book describing the foreign lands.

Furthermore, this essay analyzes the “clichés” and “stéréotype” in The Travel Journal and Pictures, in order to reveal pre-modern Chinese ideological mechanism and Chinese collective imagination of otherness, which offers an example of Sino-centric schema of ethnotyping in opposite to Eurocentric orientation. Li adapted the reality of foreignism in a dual way: the detailed and stereotyped description of people in undeveloped areas contrasts with the brief and fallacious depiction of Western world. While the “stéréotype” reflects Li’s conventional mindset about the distinction between Barbarian and Han culture, he created the silent image of Westerners who were absent in the univocal communication, as well as the savage image of aborigines, by his ideological imagination.


Wenjun Zhu, born in China, is a PhD candidate in the department of language, literature and translation studies in the Université libre de Bruxelles. Previously, she graduated from Fudan University (China), majoring in comparative literature and world literature. She had an essay on a pre-modern Chinese travel journal published on Classical Literature (CSSCI course collected papers), and she has attended IWL 2015 and 2017 Session, with two papers on Beckett’s circulation in China. In addition, she has presented her paper studying the self-translation of a modern Chinese poet in relation to English Modernism on ICLA 2016.

Image of the Ottoman Culture: Travel Genres and their Interaction with Imagology | Mateusz Orszulak

Warfare, diplomatic contacts and commercial exchanges in the sixteenth century gave rise to a corpus of travel literature varied in purpose and character. This literature took an important role in shaping the ideas about the Muslim world in a variety of ways. Obviously travel texts are a discursive manifestation of cultural difference but they also enable to some extent expression of identity. If an author makes a selection within an array of discourse types, although the process is not always conscious and often constrained by social factors, it also suggests that certain travel genres may favour or limit the depiction of ethnic categories or related stereotypes.

Moreover also intertextuality and rhetorical devices, used to categorize, familiarize, depict or to organize the content of accounts, shape the character of travelogues. If authors self-consciously appropriate texts circulating within a culture, such attitude can serve to produce their own identity as writers and to popularize a certain vision of a different culture.  Generally speaking, both factors influence the processes involved in the creation of different images.

In my paper I would like to consider the different ways in which generic conventions in travel literature shape or allow the literary depiction of ethnotypes or other social identity categories. The link between rhetoric, intertextuality and imagology is another relevant aspect that should not be overlooked in this research area.


Mateusz Orszulak obtained a master’s degree in Romance studies at Lodz University with specialization in French literature of the seventeenth century. Currently a doctoral candidate at Munich University in the DFG Research Training Group ‘Globalization and Literature: Representations, Transformations, Interventions’ with research project concerning the expression of cultural identity in travel accounts of the sixteenth century.



Imagology Meets Musicology: A Promising Connection?

"... the first singer, a born German" – National Imaginations as a Field of Conflict in Operatic Music of the 1770s | Andrea Horz

The peculiarities of the foreign and one’s own national character, a favourite topic of the 18th century (Birgit Neumann), attained a clear manifestation in the founding of national theatres in different towns of the German Reich during the 1770s. The repertoire included not only spoken plays but also operas. It is therefore not surprising that national aspects played a significant part in the public debates about opera. After all, music has been said to have a special relation to a nation’s character since antiquity. The situation in the German-speaking world at this time was also special, because national tendencies were fused with the aesthetic operatic debates and opera reform approaches. These debates came to the fore especially in the operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck, whom admirers praised as the "reformer of the taste of an entire nation".

In this paper, I subject these reviews of Gluck's operas from the 1770s in German journals to a “critical study of national characterization” (Joep Leerssen). Within this focus, it becomes clear that all levels of the multimedia genre made reference to national categories. While the national perspective did determine the German opera-aesthetic controversy at different levels, however, it did not control it entirely. Although national rhetoric was supposed to accompany the operatic reform process, it can not be reduced to this level, because the reviewers relied on different aesthetic premises. Consequently, no consensus could be reached at this time as to the characteristics of a German opera.


After earning a degree as a music teacher in 2001, Andrea Horz studied musicology, philosophy, and German medieval studies in Erlangen and Vienna (M.A. 2007, University of Erlangen). Then she received a scholarship from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Freiburg andserved as a lecturer at the Department of Musicology of the same university. In 2011 she started work as an assistant professor at the Institute of Musicology, University of Vienna. In 2013 she completed her PhD with a dissertation on Heinrich Glarean’s Dodekachordon (published in 2017). Since 2015 she has held the Hertha Firnberg position ("Performance or Score? Operas in the context of German music journalism of the 18th century"). Starting in August 2018 she will continue her professorial work with the Elise Richter position at the MDW.

Blurring Stereotypes: Italian Characters in German Music Historiography | Carolin Krahn

Through this proposal I hope to contribute to section 4 (“Stereotypes, Nation Building, Landscape Depiction – How Different Genres Interact with Imagology”) of the conference New Perspectives on Imagology from the viewpoint of a historical musicologist. In my paper, I aim to shed light on the articulation of anthropologically charged stereotypes that inform ideas of “the Italian” in German music historiography around 1800.

My talk will mainly, but not exclusively, focus on selected writings by a leading aesthetic protagonist of the time: the Protestant theologian and music critic Johann Friedrich Rochlitz (1769–1842) based in Leipzig. His concept of Italian music and musicians is not only closely interwoven with contemporary voices in music criticism. In fact, it is charged with conflicting aesthetic criteria scattered over different textual genres such as concert reviews, novels, short stories, anecdotes, and biographies. These materials chosen from the vast body of Rochlitz’s writings serve to discuss selected portrayals of (1.) female Italian singers and castratos, (2.) instrumental virtuosos performing in the “Italian style” and (3.) contemporary composers from Italy. Thereby, I intend to illustrate how the lines of fictional and non-fictional writing that communicate musical stereotypes were blurred and occasionally transcended the medium of the written text, in order to establish a sweeping counter-narrative to the ever more powerful concept of “great German music(ians).”

In other words, I will trace a crucial phase of musical taste formation in the German-speaking world that fueled powerful clichés of light, yet shallow, or ornate, yet empty characters with regards to both musicians and musical material that have persisted up to the present. Assessing such manifold images of Italian music and musicians as represented in Rochlitz’s (and others’) writings thus means confronting closely interrelated aspects of (trans)nationality, religion, sex and gender in music historiography and aesthetics.


Carolin Krahn is a musicologist working on stereotype formation in the German-speaking musical world of the late 18th/early 19th centuries, and on biologism and spirituality in Igor Stravinsky’s music. She studied Musicology, Early Church History and French Literature in Würzburg, Vienna and Paris. In 2010/11, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University, and from 2011 to 2013 an ERP fellow at Stanford University. Carolin Krahn defended her Ph.D. thesis titled Topographie der Imaginationen: Johann Friedrich Rochlitz’ musikalisches Italien um 1800 in 2017. She currently holds the position of University Assistant (postdoc) at the University of Vienna’s Department of Musicology.

Singing the Dutch – Constructions of ‘Dutchness’ in Political Songs (1775-1825) | Renée Vulto

Throughout history, songs have been ascribed an ability to affect people and to be powerful transmitters of a message. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the use of national categories in literature was closely linked to a political striving for national unity, and the literary genre of song was considered an effective instrument to strengthen the formation of collective identities. In the combination of text and music, which is unique to this genre, stereotypes of the nation were emphasized to articulate a national identity. The texts employed several tropes, and the music often reinforced such images by adding another layer of meaning to the text.

The situation in the Netherlands at the time offers an interesting case for this process, and the song Vaderlandsliefde (Love for the Fatherland, Moens and Bosch, 1792) provides a good example. It glorifies the Batavians, proudly regarded as ancestors of the Dutch people. Their loyalty and courage is described as what makes the Netherlands glorious, and the soil which they so courageously defended is to be loved above all. The song presents a continuous striving for freedom and rebellion against unwanted domination as a Batavian inheritance typifying the Dutch. Furthermore, it was set to the melody of a love song: Mijn Lief, zo schoon als 't morgenlicht (My darling, as beautiful as the morning light). This association reinforces the love for the fatherland that the song was trying to evoke. Moreover, through the act of singing such a patriotic text to a love melody, the imagined feelings of collective love for the fatherland in the text may even have become real embodied feelings in the singer. I will discuss how such images of ‘Dutchness’ in political songs were used to establish a collective Dutch national identity in the years around 1800.


Renée Vulto studied Musicology at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University and is currently working as a doctoral researcher at the Department of Literary Studies at Ghent University. Her interdisciplinary research project Singing Communities aims to examine to what extent the imagined communities in political songs became real embodied communities through the performance of these songs, and how such processes contributed to the development of a Dutch national identity in times of great cultural and political turmoil (1775-1825).

Comics – Identity under Construction

National Images in Visual Narratives. The (Re)presentation of National Characters in the Flemish Comic Series 'Suske en Wiske' | Christine Hermann

In imagological studies, researchers use to investigate national images evoked in literature. However, rather than studying ‘images’ transmitted through texts, it seems quite promising to explore also the (re)representation of national characters in visual narratives such as film and comic, which actually depict such images. While Franco-Belgian comics (especially Tintin) have been the subject of numerous detailed studies (‘Tintinology’ has even evolved into a research area of its own) regarding the national stereotypes they convey, the Flemish comics (i.e. Belgian comics in Dutch language) have been largely ignored by researchers.

This contribution will focus on one of the most popular and long-running Flemish comic series, Suske en Wiske (in French: Bob et Bobette, in English: Spike and Suzy), created in 1945 by Willy Vandersteen, in which two children travel by means of a time-machine back in history or to other countries. Just as Tintin, they happen to end up in China or Tibet, but travel also to Paris, London, Austria or ‘Chocowakije’ (Czechoslovakia).

The aim of this contribution is to investigate (where appropriate, in comparison with Tintin) the representation of national characters in Suske en Wiske. Their physical appearance, idiom, mentality, customs and traditions as well as the landscape will be considered in this analysis. It will be argued that usually good and bad guys are evenly distributed among foreigners and Flemish characters. The resulting function for the audience will be discussed as well.

In the Tintin comics, a clear evolution from an uncritical reproduction of common clichés in early episodes towards a more nuanced presentation, even a satirical use of stereotypes in later adventures can be perceived. Is a similar development to be found in Suske en Wiske, too? Another question to be dealt with is the auto-image conveyed in the comic: how ‘Flemish’ are the heroes and in which way is this ‘Flemishness’ expressed? It will be demonstrated that the auto-image is mainly constructed via the travels to the past, or through the lens of the foreigners.


Christine Hermann studied Dutch Studies and translation at the University of Vienna, with which she is affiliated since 2007, and taught Dutch literature and translation at the universities of Vienna and Münster. She is preparing a dissertation on youth and comic adaptations of Hendrik Conscience’s De Leeuw van Vlaanderen and has published several articles on that subject and other topics. Furthermore, she has edited several conference proceedings in the field of Dutch literature.

#JeSuisAmatrice – Identity Through a Landscape of Wounds | Daniel Brandlechner

The paper involves discovering how natural disasters – for example earthquakes in Italy – are connected to stereotypes and national identity.

Italy lies on the boundary between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. Due to its tectonically location Italy is the country, which has the most earthquakes in Europe. But neither cultural nor national identity of 'the Italians' had ever been conveyed through a „landscape of wounds" (Iovino 2016, 84).

After an earthquake in middle Italy in 2016 the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo drew the attention to himself by publishing two comics using ethnotypes and several national stereotypes to make sense of the world – two poor looking wounded 'Italians' stare to the right to the quake rubble, the 'Lasagnes'. The reaction on the social platforms was accompanied by a huge shit storm. Based on the after-quake-discourse we can follow the consideration from Angelika Corbineau-Hoffmann who points out in her introduction to comparative literary: „Ob das Internet durch steigende Informationsdichte solche Stereotype bekämpft oder nicht vielmehr befestigt, wäre eine aktuelle imagologische Fragestellung, deren Antwort noch offen ist." (Corbineau-Hoffmann 2013, 188).

Is a comic an adequate genre to speak about catastrophic events? The Italian comic artist Natangelo responded online by transforming the national stereotype using local traditions, for example the pasta all'amatriciana.

This study analyzes further the text, the intertext and the context, in which the given ethno- and stereotypes were brought forward, examining historical tipping points  (Leersen 2016, 20), as the earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009 and the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015.


Daniel Brandlechner is a master student in comparative literature at the university of Vienna. He is currently writing his master thesis about natural disasters and their influence on national identity and stereotypes in Italian literature. Interested in the field of spatial and digital humanities his work concerns an intermedial and interdisciplinary approach to comparative literary research.

Imagining National Stereotypes in Educational Contexts

Creating and Reinforcing Visual Stereotypes of a Nation | Tünde Varga

This paper aims to examine the relation of visual images and texts in the creation and transmission of what is considered to be Hungarian in nineteenth-century representation. My primary aim is to show this on Árpád Feszty’s famous panorama painting, entitled “The arrival of the Magyars”. This painting carries its importance in many respect: it is not only an idealised “representation” of the settling of Hungarian tribes, but also the illustration of Mór Jókai’s drama entitled Levente. Feszty’s enterprise aimed to “create” the image of the nation’s myth of origin. This image was also based on the ruling ideology of nineteenth-century historicism in Hungary. The panorama thus was also a visual reiteration of previous history paintings, and aimed to be an example for a renewed form of history painting. The depiction of the characters were also the idealised projection of what was considered (stereo)typical Hungarian.

Thus question is not only whether Jókai’s drama, or Feszty’s painting was more important in promoting the image of the settlers, but how such images – prevalent in Historical paintings – functioned for promoting illusionary stereotypes of national self-construction.

The Feszty panorama went through a rebirth when the painting was fully restored in 1995 and was placed into operation in a symbolic place Ópusztaszer to serve as an influential historical “self-image” of the settling. It is now part of the national curricula along a large number of these nineteenth-century paintings to serve as illustrations of mythological, or some historical texts in primary school 3rd and 4th grade schoolbooks. So, my paper aims to show how the once created representation are reinforced in an unreflected way for young children, whose encounter of national values, images, representations come strongly through the authority of the schoolbook (which has no alternative now in state schools in Hungary).


Dr. Habil. Tünde Varga is an Associate Professor at the Department of Art Theory and Curatorial Studies, The Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature. Her field of research is contemporary art, visual culture, art theory, contemporary documentary, curatorial and museum studies. Previously she was a researcher in comparative literature. She publishes regularly in Hungarian periodicals, works on exhibition projects, and contributes to workshops on documentaries. She is currently working on a book on the changes in art history writing.

“Hungarians Especially Like Watermelons Because They Come in the National Colours.” Images of Nations in Hungarian Elementary School Textbooks Between the Two World Wars | Krisztina Péter

My paper will examine how Hungarians and the surrounding nations are represented in elementary school textbooks for 8 to 10-years old used in Hungary between the two world wars.

As Benedict Anderson points out the formation of a national community is a process of teaching and learning. Educational institutions and textbooks are major tools in this process. As a consequence of the relatively low literacy especially among the peasantry, the importance of textbooks was even greater. Moreover, in the period after the Treaty of Trianon the relationship with neighbouring nations was a very sensitive issue.

I will first show the statistics of the nations mentioned in the textbooks. In the second part I will analyse how these nations are represented, how their image is constructed in the form of epithets, roles they perform in the stories, etc. The textbooks overwhelmingly deal with the features of Hungarians. Detailed descriptions are provided only of the Slovak and Roma people. All other nations, including Austrian, Czech, Ukrainian, Romanian, Serb, Croatian, are characterized by merely some stereotypical features.

The origins of these stereotypical representations are rooted in Hungarian high literature and national characterology as well as popular poetry and folklore, with some of the stereotypes going back to the 18th century. However, we can observe some changes in the interwar period. The depictions of certain nations were becoming more hostile as World War II was approaching.


Krisztina Péter completed her MA degrees in History (2010), Ethnography (2012) and Geography (2013) at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, where she is now completing her PhD in History. Her primary research interests lie in the cultural and social history of the sixteenth century, especially in the history of news and pamphleteering. Her other research area based on her MA thesis in Ethnography is the construction and representation of other nations in textbooks and children’s literature. She is also involved in a publication project at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, working with the correspondence of nineteenth-century Hungarian writer and politician József Eötvös.

The Brave Rabbit In Africa: Fashioning Colonial Subjectivity in Slovak Inter-War Children’s Literature | Kristína Kállay

Although Slovakia has never been part of a colonial enterprise, an understanding of the Third World as Other and barbaric sits well and alive in the Slovak popular and literary imagination. Nowhere has this seeming discrepancy been more vivid than in children’s literature. The canon of Slovak children’s literature was built up within just a few years of the Czechoslovak independence after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. The post-war proliferation of Slovak culture was made possible to a great extent by the Slovak national cultural and scientific institute Matica Slovenská, who also financed and supported the production of a national literary canon. This article is a critical and investigative exploration of colonial discourses in three children’s books produced by Slovak modernist authors during the inter-war period (1919-1938) –Smelý Zajko v Afrike (Brave Rabbit in Africa) by Jozef Cíger-Hronský, Vetroňom do Afriky (To Africa on a Glider) by Teodor Kunst and Ňumba a Čumba (Ňumba and Čumba) by Michal Šteinhíbel. The specificities of colonial discourses located outside the Saidian West-East paradigm require a case-specific investigation of colonial imagology and the hermeneutics of the Other in historical context. A discursive reading of both linguistic and visual text (illustrations) might allow us to touch upon the semantic possibilities and delimitations of intermediary analysis of narratives of children’s fiction with colonial-themed storylines. Given the psychologicallyand intellectually formative role of children’s literature, a greater awareness and understanding of the ways in which colonial-themed children’s literature contributes to pervasive stereotypes and racism in Slovak culture should be considered of immanent importance.

Kristína Kállay is currently a PhD candidate and researcher at the Institute of World Literature of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, Slovakia. Her primary research interests include colonial and postcolonial literatures, children’s literature and the hermeneutics of the Other. She holds a Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender History (Central European University, Universität Wien) and a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural and Historical Studies with a specialization in ‘Race and Racism’ from the University of Brighton, England. She is a member of the editorial board of the radical left-wing monthly Kapitál. 

Posthuman Meets Postnation – New Perspectives on the Other

The Image of the Animal in Beast Fables – Just Another Case For Imagological Research? | Christine Ivanovic

Beast Fables utilize protagonists characterized by a stereotypical set of attributes – in part taken from their “animal” natures (e.g. physical strength or weakness, feeding habits, locomotion), or reminiscent of “human” behaviors (e.g. lying). The agents are usually non-unique individuals serving as stereotype representatives of their species (the Lion, the Bear, the Fox).
Recurring characters in beast fables can be understood as images – images not aimed at a recognition of the nature or the rights of their “real” templates (i.e. actual lions, bears, or foxes), but rather serving as illustrations for typically human behaviors. The patterns created this way intentionally combine a recurring set of unchanging characteristics with a limited number of behavioral patterns. Each narrative has an experimental configuration; a combination of patterns and the results from the behavioral variants are acted out with the expressed purpose of serving as example cases that transmit a specific, socially relevant moral or lesson. Images of animals in beast fables – such as e.g. the clever fox – become a template for human social behavior. These can be communicated trans-nationally, with possible local adaption if necessary, because their constituent properties are present in most social communities, and not culturally fixated.
My paper focuses on three specific aspects. I want to (1) show how images of animals, as they are trans-culturally transmitted through beast fables, can be critically analyzed using imagology approaches. I would (2) like to  use the specific image of the Fox as an example to show how this animal is constructed as a border crosser, serving as an illustrative case for the ambivalence of otherness as both opportunity and danger for a social community. I would finally like to (3) discuss how imagology approaches can contribute to an analysis of the construction of otherness, particularly concerning the distinction between human and non-human animals.


Christine Ivanovic, Berta-Karlik-Professor at the Department of Comparative Literature of the University of Vienna. Research Interests: translational literature; East-West cultural transfer; animals as representatives of cultural otherness; digital approaches in the Humanities. Most recent publications: “Talking Animals and Politics of World Literature". In: Comparative Literature Studies. Ed. Thomas O Beebee. Special Issue: Cross-Cultural Reading. Guest Editors: Yehong Zhang, Gerhard Lauer, 54.4 (2017), 702-730; edited volume (together with A.U.Frank, M.Passarotti, F.Mambrini,C.Sporleder: CRH-2. Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Corpus-Based Research in the Humanities. Vienna 25-26 January 2018.

The Indispensability of the Difference: The Image of the Other in the Mondialist Setting of the Late Soviet Science Fiction | Aleksandr Sautkin & Elena Philippova

Construction of the image of the Other is one of the features of fantastic literature in general and its narrower part, science fiction. In addition to ethnotypical auto- and hetero-images, SF also deals with the metaphorical images of the Other as generalized models, allowing to construct various situations of interaction with the incomprehensible, rejected, alien.

Each national literary tradition shapes the figure of the Other in its own way. The heterotypes in the late Soviet fiction (the late 70's and the 80's) are very remarkable. These are no longer the clichés, nearly caricatured images of Western capitalist tycoons and imperialist politicians, nor alien invaders threatening the Earth.

On the contrary, in a number of significant texts there is a tendency to portray the future in the mondialist way: a single world government with unified system of values, the erasure of clearly delineated ethno-cultural differences, etc. This can be explained both in the frame of internationalist attitude of Marxism, connected with the idea of the nation-state’s withering away, as well as the general orientation toward the "panhuman" universal model of the Enlightenment. Some works are evidently influenced by popular in the 1970s theory of the capitalist and socialist systems' convergence.

But this universal globalized identity of the "citizen of the Earth" still has its own Other – the radically changed representatives of Homo Sapiens, such as a new kind of man who underwent biological transformation and acquired frightening super abilities. Those changes are associated with the loss of human nature and clearly reveal the impossibility of eliminating difference as a key category of human existence – at the individual and the social system levels. Therefore it seems productive to study the further development of these motifs in post-Soviet science fiction in comparison with SF works in European and Anglo-American literatures.


Aleksandr Sautkin: Ph.D. in Philosophy. Associate professor of philosophy at the Murmansk Arctic State University of Murmansk, Russia. In addition to teaching philosophy and a number of interdisciplinary courses, he writes on problems of socio-cultural identity. The author of a book in Russian and a chapter in a collective monograph in English, entitled “Philosophy in the Border Zone” (Oslo, 2015).

Elena Philippova: Senior Lecturer of sociology at the Murmansk Arctic State University of Murmansk, Russia. In addition to teaching sociology, she is working on her Ph.D. thesis in social philosophy. She has been participating in some applied sociological researches and writes on problems of contemporary culture.