The process of Europeanisation that has happened in political, social, cultural and especially legal form over the last decades, may duly be considered one of the most important and powerful changes within Europe, but also beyond. The process of instituting and developing a European internal market as a catalyst did not only lead to the transition of important sovereign rights from individual states to the European union, but also contributed to the latter’s political regulation and standing. Such processes of European integration are simultaneously embedded in and countered by tendencies towards legal, political and cultural regionalisation and re-nationalisation, thereby enabling not only a Europewide resurgence of right-wing national parties and factions, but also leading to the erosion of constitutional premises in terms of the separation of powers and the freedom of the press. Further elements, such as the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the global financial crisis of 2008 or the refugee crisis of 2015, have contributed significantly to the conflictual positioning between European integration and disintegration. Brexit and climate change, as well as worldwide digitalisation, also signal towards the need of the integration of Europe and its political borders.
National literatures both on the Continent and in Britain have reflected these disintegrating crises critically, but they have also focused on periods of European integration in less critical times (eg. Menasse, McEwan, Houellebecq). Consequently, there are obvious processes of how law and literature connect each other as well as insights into the reasons why the legalisation processes in Europe have not been accompanied by a similar cultural and literary integration on a European level – although the institutionalisation and legal guarantee of translations supports the phenomenon of European bestsellers.
At the same time, such processes of Europeanisation and European integration need to be considered in their historical dimension, as scholars across Europe during the Enlightenment, for instance, also saw themselves as one community and acted as such. Questions of natural law as well as the importance of literature for the developing Enlightenment necessarily focused specifically on a European context, which can be seen in Lessing’s position on tolerance as represented in Nathan, for instance, since Lessing conceived of such considerations in an imagined dialogue with theorists such as Locke and Voltaire. Even tendencies towards nationalisation in the 19th and 20th centuries reflect critically on the political and economic internationalisation of law and literature.
The conference will focus on culturally connected and comparable processes of Europeanisation in law and literature as well as their correlation since the early modern period.