Call for Papers

Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River: “the many-tongued chorus”

Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon

6-7 October 2016

Deadline for proposals: 30 June 2016


This international conference seeks to offer new perspectives on
Caryl Phillips’s fifth novel Crossing the River, which has been included on the
syllabus for the Agrégation. Published in 1993 and awarded the
James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1994, Crossing the River weaves
together four narratives of forced displacement and throws light on the
slave trade in Africa in the 18th century, the journey back to Africa of
emancipated slaves from America in the 19th century, the ordeal
of a former slave turned frontierswoman and defeated pioneer in the
American Wild West and the alienation of an Englishwoman and a black GI
in England during the Second Word War. Spanning three centuries and
criss-crossing three continents, the novel raises questions relating to
identity, belonging, uprootedness, responsibility, loss and nostalgia.

Contributors are invited to adopt a variety of approaches that will
illuminate the main themes, narrative strategies, literary traditions,
modes of writing, generic traits, structural principles and any other
component of the novel. Proposals may focus on, but are not restricted
to, the following topics:

-Diasporic identities
-Diasporic writing
-Exile and unhomeliness (Bhabha)
-The ethics of responsibility
-Alternative histories of slavery and colonisation
-Spatial and temporal crossings
-Narrative fragmentation
-Narrative empowerment
-Intertextuality and literary ancestor
-Generic hybridity
-A polyphony of voices
-Dialogism and pastiche
-Individual and collective traumas
-“rememory” (Toni Morrison)
-“double-voicedness” (Gates) and double consciousness (Du Bois)

Papers will be delivered in French and English. They will be
peer-reviewed for publication in the scholarly journal CYCNOS, a
publication of the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Récits Cultures Et
Sociétés of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.

Scientific and organising committee:
Catherine Delesalle-Nancey, University of Lyon 3
Vanessa Guignery, ENS de Lyon – IUF
Christian Gutleben, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis

Contributors are invited to send a provisional title as soon as
possible, and then an abstract in French or English (300 words) along
with a short biography (200 words) to Vanessa Guignery
(, Christian Gutleben
( and Catherine Delesalle-Nancey
( by 30 June 2016.