Border Narratives - Brexit, Europe, and the UK

Organisers: Lars Klein and Kirsten Sandrock
Conference assistants: Cora Övermann and Akash Saxena

logo brexit

The conference took place via Zoom.
Abstracts and programme booklet: PDF

Selected papers of this conference have been published as part of the focus issue "Border Narratives" of Anglistik, 34(3), 2023.

Borders have played a decisive role in the Brexit referendum. The decision to leave or remain in the EU was often framed in the national media as a border referendum and political scientists agree that the vote gives evidence to widespread public opposition to open border policies in the UK. The conference Border Narratives: Brexit, Europe, and the UK seeks to shed light on these issues from a literary and cultural studies perspective. We are particularly interested in investigating narratives of borders in relation to Brexit and the ways in which recent border debates interact with greater historical, cultural, and epistemological border stories.

Guiding conference questions are: How are the UK's borders negotiated in literary and cultural works? Is there a particular border aesthetics in recent works of art? How do material, political, geophysical and economic contexts feature in border narratives? And, vice versa, how do border narratives become relevant for the larger political, economic, and ideological context? Where can the field of border studies help theorizing border narratives in Europe and the UK, and where are other tools necessary for this context?


Day 1: Wednesday, 5 May

15:30 Conference opening

Greetings: Barbara Schaff (British Literature and Culture); Simon Fink (Political System of Germany / EMJMD Euroculture)

16:00 Keynote 1: Kristian Shaw (Lincoln, UK),
‘This Blessed Plot’: BrexLit and the Island Mentality
Chair: Kirsten Sandrock

17:00 Break (INSTRUCTIONS on how to use the break out rooms)

17:15 Panel 1: BrexLit and Borders

Caroline Lusin (Mannheim, Germany),
“Homeric Warriors and Ancient Rites. (R)Evoking Borders in Michael Hughes’ Country (2018) and Sarah Moss’ Ghost Wall (2018)” ABSTRACT

Wolfgang Funk (Mainz, Germany),
“‘The Last Line of Defence’: The Politics of Border Control in Contemporary English Fiction” ABSTRACT

Mark Schmitt (Dortmund, Germany)
“‘No Happiness without (B)order’:Brexit, Collective Ecstasy and Transgression in Niall Griffiths’s Broken GhostABSTRACT

Chair: Kristian Shaw

18:45 Break

19:30 Annual Lecture in European Ethnology
Cris Shore (London, UK),
‘How Did it Come to This?’ Britain, Brexit and Euroscepticism from an Anthropological Perspective
Organized jointly with the “Institut für Kulturanthropologie / Europäische Ethnologie” and the “Centre for Global Migration Studies”
Chair: Regina Bendix

20:30 Online Socializing via (INSTRUCTIONS on how to navigate our room)

Day 2: Thursday, 6 May

10:00 Keynote 2: Astrid Fellner (Saarbrücken, Germany),
“The Border Turn in Literary Studies: Border Poetics and Figurations of Border Crossings”
Chair: Brigitte Glaser

11:00 Break (INSTRUCTIONS on how to use the break out rooms)

11:15 Panel 2: Between Us and Them: Lanchester’s The Wall and BritLit
Victoria Herche (Köln, Germany),
“Of Boats and Walls: Migrating Iconographies in John Lanchester’s The Wall (2019)ABSTRACT

Dunja M. Mohr (Erfurt, Germany),
“’Who knows what old hatreds will loosen across the land now?’ Border Stories and Brexit in Contemporary British Literature” ABSTRACT

Chair: Sabina Fazli

12:15 Break

14:00 Panel 3: Borders of the Nation: Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet
Lena Steveker (Belval, Luxembourg),
“Fenced Off and Walled In: Narrating British Borders in Ali Smith’s Autumn (2016) and John Lanchester’s The Wall (2019)” ABSTRACT

Dennis Henneböhl (Paderborn, Germany),
“The Representation of External and Internal Borders and their Interaction with National Identity in Ali Smith’s ‘Seasonal Quartet’” ABSTRACT

Chair: Jens Elze

15:00 Break

15:30 Panel 4: Adaptation and Resistance
Anja Hartl (Konstanz, Germany),
“Adaptation as Border-Crossing Practice in Ali Smith's AutumnABSTRACT

Gioia Angeletti and Maria Elena Capitani (Parma, Italy),
“Europeanness, Border Aesthetics and Resistance in David Greig’s anti-Brexit Plays” ABSTRACT

Chair: Cora Övermann

16:30 Break (INSTRUCTIONS on how to use the break out rooms)

17:00 Keynote 3:
Barbara Korte und Christian Mair (Freiburg, Germany),
“Sybille Berg's GRM Brainfuck as a Dystopia of Bordered Britain”
Chair: Barbara Schaff

20:00 Brexit-Talk
Reading by Nele Pollatschek and Sam Byers
Co-organized with Literarisches Zentrum Göttingen

Day 3: Friday, 7 May

10:00 Keynote 4: Katharina Rennhak (Wuppertal, Germany),
The Kinopolitics of Irish Border Novels: Facts, Fictions and Affect
Chair: Ralf Haekel

11:00 Break (INSTRUCTIONS on how to use the break out rooms)

11:15 Panel 5: Bordering and Rebordering in Ireland
Joachim Frenk (Saarbrücken, Germany),
“There’s Him There: Northern Irish Border Narratives in the Works of Glenn Patterson” ABSTRACT

Ralf Haekel (Leipzig, Germany),
“‘over the road’, ‘over the water’ and ‘over the border’" – Political, social, and mental borders in Anna Burns’s Milkman” ABSTRACT

Chair: Anca Radu

12:15 Break

13:30 Panel 6: Digital Revolution and Migration
Marcin Galent (Kraków, Poland),
“How a Digital Revolution Dismantled the Borders of the British Polity During the Brexit” ABSTRACT

Luiza-Maria Filimon (Constanta, Romania),
“‘They met with a bunch of migrants in Calais…’: Reviewing the Use of Dog Whistles in the Tory Discourse Surrounding Immigration” ABSTRACT

Chair: Lars Klein

14:30 Concluding Remarks & Publication Plans