Thinking Out of the Box in Language, Literature, Cultural and Translation Studies:
Questioning Assumptions, Debunking Myths, Trespassing Boundaries


Padova, 5-7 September 2019

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“Thinking out of the box” is a powerful metaphor, one that challenges us to consider possibilities previously not even imagined, and to extend our vision – of the world and ourselves – to include alternative, complementary, or even contrasting perspectives. It means engaging in self-reflective, creative and/or lateral thinking, beyond what is obvious or commonplace, or even implicit in what we say and do. Most of all, it means becoming aware of the existence of “the box” (i.e. what we take for granted and how this conditions our conduct) and also being willing to question the validity of our convictions so as to expand our knowledge. It does not mean being innovative at all costs or for its own sake – in fact, it may mean going back to old practices. Rather, it requires the humility to pose “simple” questions meant to ascertain the accuracy of commonly held beliefs and taking stock of the findings.

Thinking out of the box is an act of the imagination that brings new insights into our values and cultural assumptions, and an act of courage pushing us away from our comfort zone. At this AIA conference we ask colleagues to be bold and curious enough to open the door of their scholarly “box” and to explore the research space around it on a quest for evidence of what we assume or claim we already know.

We ask them to be non-conformist, generating ideas that may challenge prevailing practices and beliefs; to dare to cross the boundaries of their sub-disciplines, interacting with scholars from neighbouring fields; and to try out something “unfashionable” that is not guaranteed to succeed, be understood or be well-received in order to pursue knowledge.

Plenary Speakers

We are delighted to announce our plenary speakers:

Partners and Collaborators

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For more options, you may want to visit

Language Workshop

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Literature Workshop

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Culture Workshop

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Language Workshop


Thinking out of the box in Language Studies – in linguistic, language teaching and translation studies – may involve relabelling phenomena and concepts; investigating familiar communicative practices through novel methods; checking whether the concepts we use are suitable for describing the phenomena we study; determining to what extent our claims and assumptions are supported by the evidence available; and exploring approaches that are sometimes claimed to have reached the limits of their potential.

Thinking out of the box may also be considered in terms of innovation, creativity, a rethinking of attitudes and approaches, and even a "daring" return to theories and practices that may have been swept aside in the drive to move ever forward. For this reason, analyses are also welcome to take a historical /diachronic approach to different genres.

Topics that could be addressed in this domain include but are not limited to the following:

  • Comparing and contrasting (the accuracy of) definitions of key concepts.
  • Challenging old and new trends in English language and translation teaching (e.g. cooperative learning, competitive learning, rote-learning, drills, creativity, project-based learning, curriculum-centred learning).
  • Cutting-edge cognitive approaches to phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, pragmatics/discourse and interpreting/translation.
  • Standard and non-standard approaches to English language and translation testing.
  • Language/translation learning and soft skills development.
  • Metalinguistic awareness.
  • Gender in linguistics, language teaching and translation.
  • Student perceptions of language learning and teaching practices.
  • Emerging real-world settings, goals and materials.
  • Proficiency, translanguaging and engagement in English-medium instruction.
  • Corpora in linguistics, language teaching and translation.
  • World Englishes, ELF and "standards" of English.
  • Convergence-divergence of theories, practices and findings in linguistics, language teaching and translation.
  • Literature and linguistic description, language learning and translation practices.
  • Exploring aspects of register and genre in linguistics, language teaching and translation.
  • Challenging established research methods and developing innovative research practice.
  • Describing, teaching and translating cross-linguistic verbal and non-verbal behaviour.
  • Alternative approaches to media in linguistics, language teaching and translation.
  • Katherine Ackerley
  • Marina Dossena
  • Sara Gesuato
  • Stefania Maci
  • Maria Teresa Musacchio
  • Giuseppe Palumbo
We will take into considerations both proposals for individual papers and for panels (3-4 participants). Proposals for each individual paper should be approx. 400 words long. Please send also a 200-word bio for each participant.

Please send your proposal by 31 March 2019 to: Maria Teresa Musacchio

Literature Workshop


Thinking out of the box in Literary Studies means rethinking, finding new approaches, challenging not only assessments on individual authors or works, but sometimes the very structure of our approach to literature. This perspective prompts a number of large-scale questions on the scope of English literature in relation to the wider frame of literatures in English. It also invites us to reassess our own remit as scholars, prompting us to interrogate the very notion of literature as system and, by extension, even our very notions of the literary and literariness.

The 2017 AIA Conference ("Worlds of Words: Complexity, Creativity, and Conventionality in English Language, Literature and Culture") focused on the dichotomy of convention and creativity, and thus constitutes an excellent starting point for the discussion to which the 2019 Conference invites the scholarly community. We may start with the issue of canonization, the most obvious "box" for literary studies. It is an immensely helpful and equally dangerous tool, which demands adherence to general rules, striving to fit each individual writer to a norm. Often, challenges to the canon, whether they come from feminist, Marxist, postmodern, or new historicist studies, have resulted in the creation of an alternative canon. In this conference we seek to interrogate canonicity itself: by looking at case studies, critical schools, influential anxieties and maverick figures, we intend to explore the tensions between creativity, old and new conventions, critical clichés.

World Literature interrogates the possibility of a national canon, and asks us to look, instead, at book circulation, reception, translation, and adaptation. As we move away from the idea of national literature (based on the conventional equation "one nation: one language") and towards transnational or world literature, literary genres acquire new centrality. The recent insistence on categories such as the global novel underlines this concept, but we may find this is also a good opportunity to re-explore the past century of book production and dissemination.

Another consequence of the global re-thinking of the idea of literature is the development of translation studies, which have recently acquired more and more importance, as they chart book circulation and transformation, not only in contemporary literature, but also in the past centuries; excellent examples of the ongoing scholarly debate are the Brepols series "The Medieval Translator", now celebrating thirty years of activity, and the more recent "MHRA Tudor and Stuart Translation Series", which has so far published over fifteen volumes.

Topics that could be addressed in this domain include but are not limited to the following:

  • Canonical unmaking and remaking.
  • Genre mobility: the relationship between synchronic theorization and diachronic complexity.
  • Subverting identities, creating new identities, undoing the identity obsession.
  • Genres and the individual text.
  • New critical trends: questioning theoretical boundaries, mixing theories, challenging /undermining theoretical orthodoxies.
  • Returning to history: from the neo historical novel to Neo-Victorianism and Neo-Edwardianism.
  • New ways of narrating literary history, beyond national/temporal delimitations.
  • Women’s writing: neither Milton’s daughters nor Frankenstein’s mothers.
  • Out of the norm and into revolution, from the Peasant’s Revolt to BrexLit.
  • Translation and untranslatability: how well does a text travel?
  • Alternative worlds, from Utopia to science fiction to fantasy.
  • Reading in the Digital Age: a new approach?
  • New projections of writing: the visual/verbal paradigm and beyond.
  • Digital humanities: does this approach prompt us to think out of the (text) box?
  • Engaging with difference in the literature classroom.
  • Maurizio Ascari
  • Rocco Coronato
  • Roberta Gefter
  • Alessandra Petrina
  • Diego Saglia
We will take into considerations both proposals for individual papers and for panels (3-4 participants). Proposals for each individual paper should be approx. 400 words long. Please send also a 200-word bio for each participant.

Please send your proposal by 31 March 2019 to: Alessandra Petrina

Culture Workshop


Thinking out of the box in Cultural Studies

Cultural studies have by definition and practice always focussed on thinking, reading and making culture against the rigid grains of academic barriers. In this contaminated area, "thinking out of the box" has indeed triggered numerous explorations within and across fields, disciplines, discourses, media. A few decades since their initial inception, and many accomplishments achieved, a possible danger for studies on culture, theory, embodiment might be that of considering them no longer necessary, as part of an outmoded agenda.

We invite proposals that deal with theoretical, methodological, artistic, literary and widely cultural discourses and engage with the relevance and the always transformed/transformative commitment to multi-disciplinary and collaborative approaches which transgress and invade discursive, political and academic fields.

Topics that could be addressed in this domain include but are not limited to the following:

  • Reading, writing, acting, across borders.
  • Visions and revisions of the classics.
  • Children’s and young adult fiction.
  • Graphic novels, picture books, visual narratives autobiographical fiction, memoir, faction.
  • Digital humanities.
  • New media and transmediation.
  • Surveying and reconsidering the postcolonial / decolonial suggestions.
  • Performative approaches to learning and creating culture.
  • Cultural heritage(s) and inclusion.
  • Migration and self-translation.
  • Globalising/nationalizing cultures.
  • Ecology of culture(s), ecocriticism on the move.
  • Gender and LGBT re-positionings.
  • Empathy and affect.
  • Old and new approaches to trauma in art, literature, new media.
  • Vulnerability, disability, body matters.
  • Cultures of the post-human.
  • Maurizio Calbi
  • Fiona Dalziel
  • Eleonora Federici
  • Marilena Parlati
  • Laura Tosi
We will take into considerations both proposals for individual papers and for panels (3-4 participants). Proposals for each individual paper should be approx. 400 words long. Please send also a 200-word bio for each participant.

Please send your proposal by 31 March 2019 to: Marilena Parlati

Escape the box of the workshop!

We welcome proposals that move across the three domains of this conference – language, literature and culture – for a truly interdisciplinary approach to English studies.

Please send these proposals to all three email addresses below:

AIA Pre-Conference Symposium
for Early-Career Researchers


L’Associazione Italiana di Anglistica ha, tra i suoi obiettivi primari, quello di promuovere e incoraggiare gli studi di anglistica in Italia, sostenendo e coordinando la ricerca scientifica in questo settore e facilitando i contatti tra gli studiosi a livello nazionale e internazionale. Strumento principe a tal fine è il convegno che l’Associazione organizza con cadenza biennale ogni volta in un diverso ateneo, un evento che forse rappresenta il principale punto di convergenza degli studiosi di anglistica e offre un’importante occasione d’incontro, confronto e dibattito tra accademici nelle tre principali aree di ricerca rappresentate dall’Associazione: Letteratura, Cultura e Lingua.

Ispirandosi a esperienze internazionali ormai consolidate come, ad esempio, l’ESSE Doctoral Symposium, l’AIA Pre-Conference Symposium for Early-Career Researchers vuole contribuire alle finalità scientifiche dell’Associazione creando un momento aperto a tutti, ma dedicato particolarmente ai ricercatori accademicamente giovani iscritti all’Associazione, e cioè dottorandi, dottori di ricerca e assegnisti di ricerca.

Lo scopo del Simposio è quello di promuovere la riflessione sui temi che i giovani ricercatori indagano nei singoli atenei creando uno spazio istituzionale di confronto e discussione, un’occasione per condividere informazioni, idee, approcci, scoperte e risultati relativi alla propria attività di ricerca in corso o svolta. Il Simposio, che sarà aperto da un intervento di rappresentanti dell’AIA e dell’Ateneo ospitante, si articolerà in tavole rotonde in cui i giovani studiosi illustreranno le loro ricerche con presentazioni della durata di cinque minuti. A queste presentazioni individuali seguiranno sessioni di discussione, domande e risposte, coordinate dai giovani referenti di area e da rappresentanti dell’AIA. Questo momento di confronto sarà reso particolarmente proficuo dal fatto che ciascun partecipante sarà invitato a condividere la propria relazione con tutti gli altri prima del Simposio, così da stimolare e favorire domande puntuali e riflessioni meditate. I referenti di area proporranno infine delle osservazioni conclusive che possano fungere da sintesi delle sessioni, così da mostrare le prospettive di ricerca dell’anglistica contemporanea nel suo insieme e, al contempo, favorire una disseminazione costruttiva e interdisciplinare dei saperi.

Sul fondamento di questa progettualità, la prima edizione del Simposio si svolgerà presso l’Università degli Studi di Padova il pomeriggio del 4 settembre 2019, giorno precedente l’inizio del convegno nazionale, dalle ore 14:15 alle ore 18:30, secondo il programma seguente:
14.15-14.30 Saluti di benvenuto
14.30-17.30 Relazioni e discussioni di gruppo
17.30-18.30 Osservazioni conclusive

Modalità di partecipazione:
Rispondendo a questa Call for Papers, pubblicata tramite i consueti canali AIA, i giovani studiosi iscritti all’Associazione che rientrano nelle categorie sopradescritte sono invitati a presentare una relazione (anche schematica) di ca 500 parole che descriva la loro ricerca, con particolare riferimento all’inquadramento teorico-metodologico, all’attività analitica e ai risultati attesi o ottenuti. L’abstract, corredato dei dati personali (nome, sede accademica, ruolo, email), va inviato a entro il 30 aprile 2019.
P.S.: Ovviamente, la partecipazione al pre-conference symposium non impedisce ai partecipanti di presentare una proposta di paper per il Convegno AIA vero e proprio.

Organizzatori / Rappresentanti di area

Silvia Pettini (Università degli Studi Roma Tre)
Francesca Raffi (Università degli Studi di Macerata)
Gianmarco Vignozzi (Università di Pisa)

Paolo Bugliani (Università di Pisa)
Camilla Caporicci (Università degli Studi di Padova)
Emanuel Stelzer (Università degli Studi di Bergamo)

Barbara Franchi (Newcastle University)
Alessia Polatti (Università degli Studi di Verona)
Ilaria Villa (Università degli Studi di Milano)