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Call for papers for the International graduate conference “REFLECTED LITERATURE: Theories, Forms, and Functions of Metanarrative Discourse


Deadline for submissions: 17th February 2020.
Participants will be notified by e-mail of their acceptance by 16th March 2020.
Accepted candidates will be informed about the conference’s program and logistics. Reimbursement are not provided. For any further information, please contact
Location: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Palazzo Cosulich, Sala Media.
Address: Fondamenta Zattere 1405, 30123 Venice, Italy.
Languages: Italian and English (a passive knowledge of Italian is however highly recommended).


«That of all the several ways of beginning a book
which are now in practice throughout the known world,
I am confident my own way of doing it is the best – I’m sure
it is the most religious – for I begin with writing the first sentence
– and trusting to Almighty God for the second.»
(Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy)

Writers of every epoch must face the literary conventions molding the creative process. Their works employ various strategies to fulfill this need, but often it is their own aesthetic reflection that becomes the object of their writings. In a broad sense, this is the distinctive element of “metaliterature”, defined as the different autoreferential expressions that literary practice can assume.
Over the centuries, metanarrative discourse has been shaped in different ways, according to the evolution of theories and literary movements that have inevitably influenced the literary praxis. Emblematic examples can be the theater within the theater – a dramatic strategy typical of the Renaissance and Baroque, exemplified by Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Calderón’s The Great Theater of the World – or the narrative artifices that characterized the novel in the 18th and 19th century. More recently, literature’s reflections on literature have been conceived in heterogeneous ways, ranging from Fernando Pessoa’s and Paul Celan’s poetical research, to post-modern experimentations influenced by structuralist and poststructuralist theories. At times, this strategy was used by contemporary literary works as an instrument to deal with the crisis of modernity and its certainties.
The increasing number of self-reflective publications and studies on this subject – among others, Patricia Waugh’s and Brian Stonehill’s interpretation of the self-conscious novel and Philippe Lejeune’s research on the autobiographic pact – show how this topic continues to constitute not only a reason for critical discussion, but also an inspiring element for literary creation.

The aim of the conference is to discuss the different manifestations of metanarrative discourse in literature, juxtaposing contributions from various linguistic areas in a comparative perspective.
Among the possible themes:

  • mise an abyme and stories within the story: analysis of narrative strategies as reflective tools on conventions, norms, and topoi;
  • metatheater and its modalities: from the play within the play to the breaking of the fourth wall;
  • the self-conscious novel, a ludic work of art that explores the problematic relation between the artifice and the reality;
  • the self-referentiality of poetry: research of new forms and languages to describe the reality;
  • autofiction and the evolution of first person narratives;
  • critical studies and theories: state of the art and possible future scenarios.

PhD Students and PhDs (max. 1 year after the completion of the PhD) are welcomed to submit their proposals. If interested, send a .pdf and .doc file to the address stating: name, surname, academic affiliation, role, temporary title of your presentation, abstract (200-300 words), and a brief bio-bibliography (around 100 words). Please name the file as follows: SurnameName_metaletteratura. All presentations must last 20 minutes max.



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