our words make worlds

Worldmaking in Languages, Literatures and Cultures: Changing Minds and Challenging Perceptions

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‘The world is not the mere collection of the countable and uncountable, familiar and unfamiliar things that are just there. But neither is it a merely imagined framework added by our representation to the sum of such given things’ (Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought 1971: 44).

We are excited to invite you to the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures inaugural conference, exploring the concept of “worldmaking” as a human endeavour operating through languages, literatures and cultures. Thinking across disciplines, times and spaces, we will contemplate different ways of worldmaking and how they correspond with one another. Our presenters will engage with a wide range of creative, ethical and scholarly aspects of worldmaking: worldmaking from the margins, making worlds online, women making worlds, readerly worldmaking, translating worlds, postcolonial worldmaking, improvising the world, worldmaking in resistance and solidarity, and more.

Join us for two days of panels, poster presentations, workshops, roundtables, a social evening, and the keynote lecture by Prof. Matthew Reynolds.

Programme information:

Monday 15th May 2023 (9:30 - 19:00)

9.30-10.00 Registration and coffee

10.00-10.30 Introduction to conference (Prof. Catherine Boyle)

10.30-12.00 Panel Session 1: Marginality and Non-Normativity

  1. Margins as gendered spaces: the role of margins in re-thinking categories of ‘centre’ and ‘peripheries’ in world literature (Camille Iuliano, KCL).
  2. “An X-Ray of Civilisation:” Description, Performativity, and Worldmaking in the literary work of Samuel Delany and David Wojnarowicz (Samuel John Nunn, QMUL).
  3. Marian Sappho-Intellectual Worldmaking in The Convents of 15th Century Castile (Katherine Smith, University of Oxford).

12.30-14.00 Lunch and posters

14.00-15.30 Workshops:

  1. Decolonisation in practice. (led by Michal Shalev, Sangeeta Bhagawati, Abdul Sabur Kidwai and Zhuan Neng Leslie Wong, KCL).
  2. Rule-Making, Code-Breaking: The Ethics of Intimacy and Improvisation in Capoeira and Theatrical Performance. (led by Gina Robinson, KCL and Rachel Vogler, Central School of Speech and Drama).

15.30-16.00 Tea and coffee

16.00-17.00 Keynote:

Prismatic Jane Eyre: Close-Reading a World Novel Across Languages (Prof. Matthew Reynolds).

17.00-19.00 Drink, Social, Music

Carnatic music (Vignesh Hampapura).

Brazilian music (Mário Bakuna and Mafalda Ramos).

Tuesday 16th May 2023 (9:00 - 16:00)

9.00-9.30 Registration and coffee

9.30-11.00 Panel Session 2 : Readerly Response and Worldmaking

  1. Aristotle on tragic catharsis and the process of mimetic recognition (Andrea Romani Lopez, KCL).
  2. The Art of Empathy: Compassion in English Supremacist Texts of the Later Middle Ages (Josephine Spelsberg, KCL).
  3. Folding and layering and stacking then starting again (Isobel Marshall, KCL).

11.00-11.30 Coffee and posters

11.30- 13.00 Panel Session 3: Cross Border Writing and Coloniality

  1. Masihuddin in the World: Safarnama-i London Explored (Abdul Sabur Kidwai, KCL).
  2. ‘Dhairyam Avalambyatām’: On the Preclusion of the Tragic (Vignesh Hampapura, University of Oxford).
  3. Periodicals, Public Spheres and the Construction of Frontier Identities in India’s North-Eastern Region (Sangeeta Bhagawati, KCL).

13.00 -14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Roundtable: The opportunities and challenges of teaching, researching, and studying worldmaking in today’s environment.

15.30 Closing words (Prof. Catherine Boyle).


  • Claudia Dias (KCL): A comparative approach to the representation of the female self in the short fiction of Sophia Andresen, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and Clarice Lispector.
  • Felicity Moffat (KCL): Reimagining the female midlife and multiple worldmaking in Celle que vous croyez (Camille Laurens, 2016).
  • Molly Wilson (Central School of Speech and Drama): ‘Realing’ the reel: Disrupting gendered social media, in pursuit of feminist digital worlds.
  • Eli Ståhl: Pissed Off: affective solidarity through transgender rage.
  • Sarah Yousri (KCL and Helwan University), Egypt: Drawing Emotions in Depression: Illuminating the World of the Iconography of Mental Illness in Graphic Pathographies.
  • Gayle Kennedy (KCL): ‘Epistemic Reconstitution': World-making in Jose Martí and Jorge Luis Borges.
  • Oliver Roughton (KCL): Between anthropology and aesthetics: the importance of non-cognitive language in Johann Gottfried Herder’s Fragmente über die neuere deutsche Literatur 

Please sign up via Evenbrite