CFP: HOLIDAY POETICS – Summer Leisure and the Narrative Arts

Imaginaires - bilingual journal
Guest-edited by David Pinho Barro
Stichtag: 2021 07 31

Call for submissions for the December 2022 issue of the bilingual journal Imaginaires, published by the Éditions et Presses universitaires de Reims (France) and guest-edited by David Pinho Barros

The worst pandemic to plague the world since the early 20th-century Spanish flu has forced us to rethink a myriad of political, economic, social and cultural practices around the world. Summer holidays, the conventional antidote for the fatigue of a year of work (and, more broadly, for the “depressing life of our societies”, according to a 1912 statement by Charles Viennet, secretary-general of the French Christian employee unions), are one of these phenomena which had to be reconsidered in the face of the new order — and few people had, in 2020, the summer they had expected or even already planned. The idea of holidays currently adopted in capitalist societies is, however, surprisingly recent, dating from June 1936, when the Front Populaire in France established by law the right to an annual paid leave, which allowed 600,000 workers and their families to go on holidays that same year (a number which tripled as soon as 1937), and which lent its model to similar laws in many European and Western countries.

This issue of Imaginaires proposes to address the relationship between the narrative arts and the phenomenon of summer holidays, both in its pre-1936 forms (from aristocratic 19th-century health cures to early 20th-century cultural stays and seaside leisure) and in its post-1936 variants (from the massive postwar seasonal working-class exoduses to bourgeois resort vacationing and contemporary ecoconscious summer sojourning in nature).

The first perspective explored in this issue will be that of the thematisation of summer holidays by the narrative arts. Indeed, holiday contexts are a staple setting for hundreds of novels, films and comics, developing stories where, quite often, the anticipation of the benefits of summer rest is utterly dashed, both to tragic and to comic effects. Disrupted day-tripping or summer vacationing plans are, for instance, the narrative motor of a whole genre in Italy in the 1950s, the “cinema turistico-balneare”, where feature films as distinct as Aldo Fabrizi’s La famiglia Passaguai, Alberto Lattuada’s La spiaggia and Antonio Racioppi’s Tempo di villeggiatura clearly illustrate the exceptionally ample narrative and expressive possibilities of the theme. These films, as many other novels, comics, photo-novels and special issues of magazines throughout the 20th century and to our day, have approached holidays from a wide array of cultural, political and sociological perspectives, and all will be of interest to the first part of this issue.

Other takes on the topic will ensue, notably the questioning of why and how certain works of narrative art have been considered ideal objects for cultural consumption in the summer holiday period, such as the novels that literary and popular magazines recommend seasonal travellers to carry in their luggage, themselves often written with the summer reader in the horizon. Questioning summer writing for summer reading would be incomplete without its mediatised counterpart: the widespread representations of authors and creators on holidays, a phenomenon famously dissected by Roland Barthes in his Mythologies.

As relevant as cultural, historical and philosophical approaches to the topic of holidays in the narrative arts is an examination of what is at times blurrily designated “holiday style” in the description of certain novels, films and comics, and which necessarily implies a study of the possible interaction between topic and form. Here, aspects of density, rhythm, tone and composition will be the basis of analysis, and help explain the points of intersection of novels as different as Edith Wharton’s The Children and Francis Steegmuller’s Silence at Salerno, films as disparate as Jacques Tati’s Les Vacances de M. Hulot and Henry Koster’s Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, or comics as unrelated as André Franquin’s Vacances sans histoires and Lucas Harari’s La Dernière Rose de l’été.

Finally, this issue, proposing an examination of the holidays of the past through the narrative arts, as well as a scrutiny of the impacts of this paramount human phenomenon in cultural creation and consumption, will allow for the questioning of the holidays of the future, in a post-pandemic world, as well as of its most evident opposite: a certain conception of organised work.

A wide range of approaches to the topic are welcome, including, but not restricted to, the following perspectives:

  • Representations of summer holidays in the narrative arts
  • Historical evolution of holidays as depicted in literature, film and comics
  • Holidays and their antonyms (work, schedules, fatigue) in narrative
  • Holidays as a political, economic and social issue in the narrative arts
  • Development of the theme of holidays in comedy and drama
  • Representations of writers, filmmakers and comics authors on holidays
  • History of holiday styles and genres in literature, film and comics
  • Summer holiday-themed special issues of literary, film and comics magazines
  • Summer fashion, architecture and photography in the narrative arts
  • Representations of travel guides in summer holiday-themed narratives
  • Amateur literary, film and comics creation in holiday contexts
  • Summer holiday literary, filmic and comics lists and recommendations
  • Post-pandemic redefinition of summer holidays in literature, film and comics.

English or French-language proposals (including a 300-word article summary, a 200-word biographical note, 5 to 10 keywords and the author’s name and affiliation) should be sent in PDF format to David Pinho Barros ( until the 31st July 2021. Authors will be informed of the acceptance of their submissions by the 31st August 2021, and full texts should be delivered on the 31st January 2022 at the latest for a double peer review