中世紀基督教視現世只是通往來生的驛站，天堂才是精神永恆安定居所。在《貝奧武夫》及亞瑟王傳奇故事，「建立家園」隱喻著確立國族邊界，因而導致兩國之間的衝突。在現代主義，盧卡奇說人們苦於一種「超越性無家之愁」；而關於家族信仰，英國文學作家從奧斯丁、狄更斯一直到康拉德、吳爾芙，將帝國思想連結到對家的關注，因此性別、位階就與地理政治、國家認同有關。 美國文學重視個人生命流動特質，特別是庫柏的《拓荒者》（The Pioneers）、凱魯亞克的《旅途中》（On the Road），而「建立家園」也意涵著國家認同。精神分析理論將陌異感（the uncanny）與「無家」（un-homely）進退失據的恐懼相繫；對拉岡而言，主體內部基層的空缺藏有無名無形真實層騷動力量，這是一生命定相依相隨的焦慮。然而，德勒茲思想的遊牧主體是覓尋新地及開啟新觀念，一種生命藝術創造力的必需境況。
離散族群想像在二十與二十一世紀是重要的文學作品主題研究。當今，根據聯合國難民署報告，因戰亂被迫離開家園而導致當今難民數量在2015年達到高峰。敘利亞的難民危機揭示戰亂國家人民四處逃亡找尋新居，諭示富裕國家會因掠奪資源而引發戰事，海平面因此上升，乾旱現象日漸顯現，這將讓數以百萬人口無家可歸。過去十多年來，胡賽尼（Khaled Hosseini）的小說《追風箏的小孩》（2003）、艾格（David Egger）的小說《范倫狄洛.登格的自傳》（2006）、蒂賽（Kiran Desai）的小說《繼承失落者》（2006）、及阿蒂契（Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie）的小說《美國》（2013）及詩集，如：麥凱（Don McKay）的《田野印記》（2006）及默溫（W.S. Merwin）的《遷徙》（2005）皆關注錯置感、被驅逐感、文化混雜，等問題。
同時，我們也意識到錯置感也殃及其他非人的物種生存。森林砍伐、環境生態污染、及土地過度開發問題皆威脅到大自然物種多樣性的延續。地球病了，非人物種的日漸滅絕也映照出尼森（Rob Nixon）所說的「無遷移的錯置感」。人在對峙這錯置之際，哈洛維（Donna Haraway）就提議「創造親屬」新型家庭觀，不受限於性別與物種。因此，失去家園意謂著對「家」產生新的定義。藉由這個國際研討會的學術交流，邀請大家思考「家」的概念，從文學作品、電影來理解當代全球化的國際社會情境各方面的動盪不安，重啟對「吾家‧無家」思維的返∕反思。
25th Annual Conference of the English and American Literature Association
Home, the dwelling place for individual persons, families, nations or nonhuman beings, symbolizes our struggling sentiment toward where we belong. King Oedipus is perhaps the first in a long line of literary figures to be affected by this experience of profound ambivalence because the search for truth would plunge us into the chaos of the unknown. Home could shelter us from the transience of life, but it can also be the object of a nostalgic longing, or even a traumatic place where ideological frameworks are contested and childhood memories are sublimated into creative works.
Medieval Christianity viewed all earthly life merely as a state of transition towards the soul’s eternal home in the afterlife. In Beowulf and Arthurian Romance, “making a home” implies national boundaries, which inevitably leads to conflicts between states. In modernity, on the other hand, people have been said to suffer from a “transcendental homelessness,” as George Lukács famously claimed. The cult of domesticity, which critically preoccupied British writers from Austen and Dickens all the way to Conrad or Woolf, tethered the Empire to the well-tended hearth, linking questions of gender and class with geopolitics and national identity.
Similarly, in the American obsession with individual mobility, evident in works as disparate as Cooper’s The Pioneers or Kerouac’s On the Road, the problem of “making a home” is inextricably tied to questions of national belonging. Psychoanalysis theorized the uncanny as the “un-homely”; for Lacan, there exists a constitutive void in our psychic structure, which forever challenges us to make peace with this inner forces of the unnamable Real. In Deleuze’s celebration of the nomadic subject, searching for something new—either a territory or a concept— is a necessary condition of creativity.
The diasporic imagination was one of the central themes in literary and cultural studies during the 1990s and early 2000s. Today, the United Nations announce that the number of people displaced by war has reached an “all-time high.” The Syrian refugee crisis foreshadows a world in which wealthy nations seek to stave off the millions made homeless by rising sea-levels, catastrophic droughts, and wars over resources. Over the past decade, novels such as Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (2003), David Eggers’ The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006), Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss (2006) and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americana (2013) or poetry collections such as Don McKay’s Field Marks (2006) or W.S. Merwin’s Migration (2005) have grappled with the experiences of displacement, dispossession, and cultural hybridization.
At the same time, we are increasingly forced to realize that displacement is a condition affecting not only humans, but also other species. The dramatic decline in biodiversity over the past century is for the most part attributable to habitat loss in the wake of deforestation, pollution, and land development. Similarly, the earth suffers; the fate of many non-human species mirrors that of the growing number of people who are suffering from what Rob Nixon describes as “displacement without movement.” To both resist and cope with such displacements, Donna Haraway suggests that we engage in practices of “making kin,” forming new associations not constrained by gender or species. The loss of the home requires that the home be defined anew.
The aim of this conference is to advance our understanding of how literature or films have shaped and reflected changing attitudes about the home and kinship, the homeless and the kinless, in the broadest sense of these terms. The topics we would like contributors to address include, but are not limited, to the following:
- The uncanny
- Childhood memory
- Orphanhood, adoption
- Nomadic subjects and self-exile
- Refugees, asylum seekers
- Foreigners, hospitality and hostility
- National identity, minor literature
- Diaspora, migrant communities
- Metropolis, urbanization
- Vagabonds, hobos as culture heroes
- Posthuman, neoliberalism, multitude
- Biodiversity loss, the poetics of extinction
- Climate change, ecological crises
- Pets as kin
- Nonhuman habitats
- Earth, anthropocene