Affiliations: Towards a Theory of Cross-Temporal Comparison

In recent years, comparison and comparability have generated thorough critical discussion within the fields of cultural and literary studies. But despite the popularity of comparison as a critical methodology, it is nevertheless the case, as Rita Felski notes, that ‘comparison across space—that is to say, across nations, cultures, or regions—has received far more attention in comparative literature than comparison across time.’ To some extent, existing disciplinary distinctions produce this uneven distribution of attention. Period boundaries impose an often arbitrary temporal delimitation of inquiry, which in turn lends weight to reified and institutionalised categories of thought. Consequently, cross-temporal work is, as Felski argues, habitually ‘seen as evidence of dilettantism or insufficient professionalization.’ But, we suggest, that which has been dismissed as dilettantism itself promises reinvigoration and expansion of the possibilities of literary criticism more generally. Xiaofan Amy Li’s work on the ‘three kinds of comparabilities’ associated with the conventions of ‘existing comparative literature’ (the ‘genealogical, temporal, and generic comparabilities’) has provided a vocabulary for understanding the ways comparative thought makes assumptions about how texts might relate across time (2015, 14). Like the ‘world’ of world literature, which can serve, as Karima Laachir, Sara Marzagora, and Francesca Orsini have argued, as ‘dominant explanatory grid’ (2018, 291-2), time in ‘existing comparative literature’ tends to be either reduced to lines of inheritance or treated as a static frame or macro-category that justifies comparability in advance. With this in mind, this conference seeks to provoke discussion of and experimentation with asynchronous encounters, to stage interactions between texts and fields of research routinely kept separate, and to develop collectively a theory of cross-temporal comparison.


Seeking to bring into discussion a wide variety of perspectives on the theory and practice of ‘cross-temporal comparison’, we invite proposals for papers of relevance to the subject of the conference, which might include considerations of:

  • Case-studies which stage encounters between texts and contexts from antiquity to the present day, without recourse to lines of influence and inheritance, or a shared cultural context.
  • Broader conceptual, philosophical, methodological considerations of the theory of cross-temporal comparison.
  • Examinations of the role that social, political, economic, and cultural contexts play in shaping the ways in which cross-temporal comparisons are made, and how can we account for these factors when making such comparisons.
  • Explorations of the pedagogical and institutional implications of any thinking-beyond the limits of periodisation.

The conference will be in-person at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford. We welcome (but do not require) joint proposals and innovative styles of presentation. The deadline for abstract submissions was 15 November 2023.


This event requires registration. If you are attending the conference as a speaker, please register via GoogleForms here. If you would like to attend the conference as a non-speaker, please register via Eventbrite here (in person) or here (online). If you have any questions, please e-mail the conference organisers at

The full programme is available here:


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Friday, 24 May

9:00–9:35 | Registration

9:45–10:00 | Opening Remarks
Gareth Lloyd Evans (University of Oxford) and Joseph Hankinson (University of Oxford)

10:00–11:00 | Opening Keynote: ‘On Comparison: Medieval Studies and Comparative Racialization’, Seeta Chaganti (University of California, Davis)
Chaired by Marion Turner (University of Oxford)

11:00–11:25 | Coffee Break

11:30–13:00 | Parallel Panels 1, 2 and 3

Panel 1: Queer Entanglements
Chaired by Anna Wilson (Harvard University)

  • ‘The Poetry of Cruising’, Stephen Guy-Bray (University of British Columbia)
  • ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven Sodom’, Zaccary Haney (Loyola University Chicago)
  • ‘Afterthought as a Form of Queer Affiliation’, Valentina Tibaldo (University of Padua)

Panel 2: Redemption, Subversion, Contemplation: Theology and Comparison

Chaired by Elisabeth Dutton (University of Fribourg)

  • ‘Medieval Contemplation, Modern Criticism: A Comparative Approach to Attentional Practice’, Hannah Lucas (University of Cambridge)
  • ‘Christ’s Subversive Body and Diachronic Comparison: Toward a Three-Dimensional Reading’, Olga Solovieva (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torún)
  • ‘Redemptive Methodology: Cross-Time Analysis of Christian Persecution in India’, Clara Joseph (University of Calgary)

Panel 3: (Dis)Member States: European Divisions
Chaired by Andrew Ginger (Northeastern University)

  • ‘Writing Trauma: Language and Dismemberment in Aleksandar Hemon and Lucan’, Esther Reichek (Harvard University)
  • ‘ “The Present is Not Only What Happens Today”: Christa Wolf, Paul Fleming and the Anachronicity of the Work of Art’, Catherine Smale (King’s College London)
  • ‘Historical-Typological Analogies: A Model of Cross-Temporal Comparison in European Marxist Literary Studies’, Aleksandar Momčilović (Independent Researcher)

13:00–14:00 | Lunch

14:05–15:05 | Parallel Panels 4, 5 and 6

Panel 4: Staging Cross-Temporality
Chaired by Kathleen Tonry (University of Connecticut)

  • ‘Unmasking the Trans- Historical: The Medieval Mysteries and Iranian Taʿziyeh Compared’, Elisabeth Dutton (University of Fribourg) and Lucy Deacon (University of Fribourg)
  • ‘Recognizing the World: Some Precolonial Conversations in a Postcolonial World’, Radhika Koul (Claremont McKenna College)

Panel 5: Realisms, Speculative and Distant
Chaired by Julia Hartley (University of Glasgow)

  • ‘Distant Realisms’, Nicholas Paige (University of California, Berkeley)
  • ‘Cross-Temporal Comparative Literature: The Dynamics of Belonging and Difference from Hermeneutics to Speculative Realism’, Laila Sougri (Cadi Ayyad University)

Panel 6: Collisions and Collusions: Reimagining Textual Precursors
Chaired by Luisa Coelho (University of Oxford)

  • ‘Borges and His Precursors: Constructing Comparisons’, Georgina Fooks (University of Oxford)

  • ‘Imagining the Unimaginable: Glissant’s Relation Theory as a Methodology for Cross-Temporal Comparisons’, Daniel Whittle (University of Oxford)

15:15–16:45 | Parallel Panels 7, 8 and 9

Panel 7: Object-Oriented Comparisons
Chaired by Hannah Lucas (University of Cambridge)

  • ‘The Book Across Time: Technology, Labor, and a Cross-Temporal Approach to the History of the Book’, Kathleen Tonry (University of Connecticut)
  • ‘Early Itineraries of “Japanese-Chinese Comparative Literature” ’, Jeffrey Niedermaier (Brown University)
  • ‘Heterochronology in a Comparative and Interdisciplinary Analysis of a Canonical Epic Poem and Two Contemporary Artworks’ Luisa Coelho (University of Oxford)

Panel 8: Theorising the Cross-Temporal Encounter
Chaired by Daniel Reeve (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • ‘Writing Her Self: The Old English Wife’s Lament and écriture féminine’, Grace O’Duffy (University of Oxford)
  • ‘Asynchronous Fidelity in the Philosophical Politics of Cicero and Alain Badiou’, Andres Matlock (University of Georgia)
  • ‘Anaracialism and the Ruse of Logisticality’, Wan-Chuan Kao (Washington and Lee University)

Panel 9: Figuring Comparison
Chaired by Georgina Fooks (University of Oxford)

  • ‘Reading after the End of the World: Cross Temporal Comparative Approaches to the Romanesque’, Meg Bernstein (Alfred University) and Meg Boulton (University of York)
  • ‘Portraits and Portrait Poems: A Cross-Temporal Perspective’, Valentina Monateri (University of Turin)
  • ‘On the Comparative Literary Aspect of the Phenomenon of Temporality’, Marton Hoványi (Eötvös Loránd University)

16:45–17:10 | Coffee Break

17:10–18:10 | Roundtable: Temporalities

Mark Currie (QMUL)
Daniel Reeve (UC Santa Barbara)
Kathleen Tonry (Conneticut)
Julia Hartley (Glasgow)
Kate McLoughlin (Oxford)

19:30 | Conference Dinner (Speakers Only)


Saturday, 25 May

9:25–9:55 | Coffee Reception

10:00–11:00 | Roundtable: Comparabilities

Nicola Gardini (Oxford)
Rowan Anderson (Oxford)
Valentina Monateri (Torino)
Danielle Stephenson (Berkeley)
Trevin Corsiglia (Washington, St. Louis)
Nicholas Paige (Berkeley)

11:10–12:10 | Parallel Panels 10, 11 and 12

Panel 10: Resonance Patterns
Chaired by Rowan Anderson (University of Oxford)

  • ‘From Silence to Sound and Back to Nature’, Sarker Hasan Al Zayed (Independent University, Bangladesh)
  • ‘Affiliation through Amplification’, Emily Pillinger (King’s College London) and Miranda Stanyon (University of Melbourne)

Panel 11: Reassembling the Social, Rethinking Affinity
Chaired by Zaccary Haney (Loyola University Chicago)

  • ‘Considering Ants and ANT: Traherne and Latour’s Relational Ecologies’, Olivia Leonard (Arizona State University)
  • ‘The Sapphinity as Moratory Hauntology: Spectral Archives in After Sappho’, Andreea Moise (University of Bucharest)

Panel 12: Affiliative Pedagogies
Chaired by Ryan Hintzman (Yale University)

  • ‘ “Then and Back Again”: Asynchronous Encounters and their Epistemological Issues for Literature Teachers- to-be in France’, Claudine Le Blanc (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Tristan Mauffrey (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)
  • ‘Beyond Boxes: Rethinking Periodization and Genre in the International Baccalaureate Language A Curricular Framework’, Shelby Knighten (University of Oxford) and Leah Yates (University of Denver)

12:10–13:10 | Lunch

13:15–14:45 | Parallel Panels 13, 14 and 15

Panel 13: Preterite Present
Chaired by Grace O’Duffy (University of Oxford)

  • ‘ “They’re not fanfics, mother”: Reading Medieval Literature with Fanfiction’, Anna Wilson (Harvard University)
  • ‘Intermittent Imagos and Malfunctioning Memory Chips: Roman Funerary Culture and Discontinuous Intertextuality in Bujold, Leckie and Martine’, Helen Lovatt (University of Nottingham)
  • ‘Rejecting “Medievalism”? Comparing The Wanderer and Star Wars: The Last Jedi’, Catrin Haberfield (Stanford University)

Panel 14: Poetry and Poetics
Chaired by Stephen Guy-Bray (University of British Columbia)

  • ‘On Emergent Occasions: Toward a Comparative Pragmatics of Poem-Making’, Ryan Hintzman (Yale University)
  • ‘A Perspective on Cross- Temporal Comparison: Innovation of ‘Lyrical Forms’ in the Bridesmaid (1851) and the Marienleich of Frauenlob (Heinrich von Meißen, 1250/1260– 1318)’, Simone Kügeler-Race (University of Cambridge)
  • ‘Expansive Solipsists: Petrarch, Whitman, and the Poetics of Selfhood’, Trevin Corsiglia (Washington University in St. Louis)

Panel 15: East-West Affiliations
Chaired by Danielle Stephenson (University of California, Berkeley)

  • ‘Comparison as a Practice of Return’, Philipp Sperner (University of Konstanz)
  • ‘Reframing the Aesthetics and Politics of Difference: A Comparative Analysis of Twentieth-Century Western and Classical Indian Aesthetic and Philosophical Ideas of ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Power’ ’, Nishtha Dev (Sophia College for Women, Mumbai)
  • ‘A Mesopotamian Haunted House? Narrating Domestic Anxieties in the Anglo-American Gothic and a Mesopotamian Ritual Against Demons’ Jane Gordon (University of Chicago) and Adam Howe (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

14:55–16:25 | Parallel Panels 16, 17 and 18

Panel 16: Patterns, Networks, Groups
Chaired by Kate McLoughlin (University of Oxford)

  • ‘Rereading Jhumpa Lahiri’, Ushashi Dasgupta (University of Oxford)
  • ‘Affiliations and the Aesthetic Appreciation of History’s Patterns’, Andrew Ginger (Northeastern University)
  • ‘Transhistoric Coterie’, Michelle Alexis Taylor (Emory University)

Panel 17: Dream Time
Chaired by Olivia Leonard (Olivia Leonard)

  • ‘The New Predestination: Boethius, Climate Time, and the Singularity’, Daniel Reeve (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • ‘History as Dreaming: Assembling Time’, Meghan Quinlan (Uppsala University) and Andreas Keller (Swedish Psychoanalytical Association)
  • ‘Time and the Mystic Writing- Pad: Freud, Hegel, and a Phenomenology of Time’, Samuel Himmelfarb (University of Oxford)

Panel 18: Dante and/or Proust
Chaired by Valentina Tibaldo (Olivia Leonard)

  • ‘On Higher Ground: Dante, Amiri Baraka, and the “System” of Time’, Danielle Stephenson (University of California, Berkeley)
  • ‘Translation as Cross- Temporal Comparison: The Case of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu’, Rowan Anderson (University of Oxford) and Nicole Wong (University of Oxford)
  • ‘Reading by Analogy: Dante and Proust, Dante and Hafez’ Julia Hartley (University of Glasgow)

16:25–16:50 | Coffee Reception

16:55–17:55 | Closing Keynote: ‘Hauntologies, Figural Historiography, and Other Unruly Ways to Think Transtemporality’, Carla Freccero (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Chaired by TBC