CFP – Nordic Utopias and Dystopias

Call for Papers: Nordic Utopias and Dystopias
NorLit 2017
Nordic Literatures 2017
June 8-10, 2017
University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland

The Nordic countries have often been considered ideal states as regards their organization of society, including, among other things, their education systems, gender equality, and a strong concern for nature. From the late twentieth century onwards, an increasing interest in Nordic literature, film, and design – genres where social themes have been strongly highlighted – can be noted internationally. This discourse of the Nordic societies can be considered to contain both utopian and dystopian aspects. According to Ruth Levitas in her seminal work on utopian theory, The Concept of Utopia (1990), contemporary research of utopias is characterized by multiplicity. Levitas claims that the modern concept of utopia can be understood in accordance with criteria such as form, form and content, function, function and form, as well as by avoiding definitions altogether. If the concept is defined in terms of both form and content and, further, in accordance with Thomas More’s paradigmatic work Utopia (1516), the literary invention of utopia indicates that utopias are good places to be found nowhere. By depicting better societies and civilizations utopias are not only critical of society: they also seem to question the very idea of an ideal society altogether (Hewitt, 1987). In this respect utopias – be they understood as cultural genres, satires, political topoi, or ideologies – contain a dystopian potential or tendency. The opposite is, however, also the case. From Ernst Bloch’s definition of utopia as a site where the principle of hope is always at work, it must be concluded that the dystopia also carries a utopian potential. The ultimately good or bad society that does not exist anywhere can of course not be or become real. Nevertheless, what actually may be identified in most social, cultural and political undertakings and developments, are utopian tendencies as well as dystopian aspects.

We invite scholars in the fields of literature, culture, history, the social sciences and other related fields, to submit proposals for individual papers, panel-, poster-, or roundtable sessions, which relate to the general conference theme, defined in the widest possible sense.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Constructions of the Nordic welfare state
  • The welfare discourses of the 1920s and -30s in the individual Nordic countries
  • Transformations of the Nordic welfare discourses in the new millennium
  • The ‘folkhem’ (the people’s home)
  • Ecocriticism (e.g. mining landscapes; degraded landscapes; narratives of end preservation and the Ur-mountain as a cultural space; wild woods and cultural landscapes)
  • Nordic “other spaces” (e.g. the sauna)
  • The colonization of the Sapmi
  • Nordic desire
  • Nordic noir and Nordic nature
  • The image of the Nordic in non-Nordic literature
  • “Scandichic”
  • Arctic territories
  • The concepts of utopia and dystopia
  • Nordic lightscapes and darkscapes
  • The Nordic children’s idyll
  • Refugees and the Nordic countries
  • “Intersectional diplomacy”
  • The idea of Ultima Thule

Deadline for paper, poster or panel proposals: October 1, 2016.
E-mail your proposal to: