This research group is defined by a commitment to forms of textual transit, cultural transfer, and intermediality. Temporally, it focuses on modern and contemporary literatures and cultures, with occasional extensions to other periods.

Its goals largely coincide with the following areas of academic inquiry:

1.  the cultures of Ireland and Britain, relations and representations: the priority given to Ireland in the group’s name is a foundational trait in which Relational Forms takes pride. Indeed, our focus on Irish texts and cultural forms makes us the only structured research venture in Portugal with a sustained and continuous Irish dimension since 2004. However, our inquiry extends to the textual dynamics that mark other cultures in the British Isles, considered from a doubly exogenous perspective – our Portuguese vantage point, and the critical perspective gained through the Irish bias;

2.  texts in transit 1, translations, appropriations, rewritings: the group understands translation as referring to more processes than interlingual transit. It also explores homologies between the culturally exogenous approach described under 1 above, and the relations between literature and other practices, verbal and non-verbal media;

3.  texts in transit 2, intermedial transfer; literature and the visual arts;

4.  texts in transit 3, time, space, experience: literature encounters biography, historiography, geography.

Relational Forms VI

Imag(in)ing the Nation:

Literature, the Arts and Processes of National Construction

2 – 4 December 2021

an international conference hosted by the

Faculty of Arts and Humanities

University of Porto, Portugal

extended deadline

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Jeremy Black (Professor Emeritus, University of Exeter)
Roy Foster (Professor of Irish History and Literature, Queen Mary Univ. London)
Uta Staiger (Associate Professor of European Studies, University College London)

According to scholars, criteria for nationhood have typically involved a commonality of ethnicity, language or religion, historically prolonged occupation of a stretch of land, frequently linked to the existence of a state apparatus, collective experience, and shared memories. Literature and the other arts have often been mobilized to support (if not altogether participate in the construction of) this sense of belonging and identity, which they can also challenge and complicate. Nationalism may simply be described as the most extreme form of such engagements and allegiances. In his 1945 essay “Notes on Nationalism”, George Orwell denounces the characteristic aggressiveness and single-mindedness of the nationalist, as well as the peculiar indifference to reality such attitudes entail. Orwell’s essay betrays a sense of urgency derived both from the hazards of the Second World War and from the perceived political and ideological threats of the approaching Cold War – a term he would himself coin. More recently, adopting the more poised stance of the historian, Jeremy Black has observed that nationalism “is a feeling as much as a principle. It manifests powerful emotional elements as well as the interaction of the ‘deep histories’ of particular national, or would-be national, groups with the contexts and expressions of these ‘deep histories’ in specific circumstances” (2018). And a pervasive tension between accounts of the past and versions of an envisaged future often energises the historiographic process; as noted by Roy Foster, “The most illuminating history is often written to show how people acted in the expectation of a future that never happened” (2002).​

Such remarks emphasize the intersecting of ideologies and practices of memory, of emotional commitment and institutional constraints. It is at these crossroads that literature and the other arts have often played a role in presenting, critically assessing and reformulating discourses of nationhood that may be seen as either conservative, progressive or subversive. This conference is aimed at addressing this vast problematic. The conference marks the centenary of the partition of Ireland (1921), and, taking place at this time in history, inevitably intends to reflect on the meaning of the circumstances leading to and arising from Brexit. The focus of the conference is however intended to be broad and international, as well as intermedial, in keeping with the rationale that has been guiding the Relational Forms research group.​

The organisers will welcome proposals for 20-minute papers in English responding to the above. Suggested (merely indicative) topics include:

• literature, the arts, and the ideology/ies of nation

• culture and the nation-state
• nation, nostalgia, trauma, exaltation, utopia
• institutions of national memory: academies, museums, libraries, archives
• genres and practices of nation-building: historical fiction, historical painting, historiography
• rival discourses of patriotism and identity
• nation(alism), aggressiveness, prejudice and intolerance
• identity, peace and conflict
• nation and class, nation and gender
• the nation, the state and the education of the citizen
• remediating the political imagination: from literature to audiovisual to digital media


As indicated by the number in its title, this conference is the sixth in a series of academic events that reflect the ongoing concerns of the eponymous research group (Relational Forms), based at CETAPS (the Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies).


Submissions should be sent by email to


Please, include RF6 in the subject line of your email.

Please organise your proposal into two separate files:

• a file containing the full title and a 250-300 word description of your paper;

• a file containing the author’s data: name, affiliation, contact address, paper title and author’s bio-note (150 words).

Please name these two documents as follows:




Deadline for proposals: 30 September 2021

Notification of acceptance: 15 October 2021

Deadline for registration: 15 November 2021


Registration Fee: 80 Euros

Student fee: 65 Euros

Registration details will be posted online in October 2021


All delegates are responsible for their own travel arrangements and accommodation.

More information available later at


Organised by the Relational Forms research area


Executive Committee:

Rui Carvalho Homem (coord.) | Jorge Bastos da Silva | Miguel Ramalhete Gomes | Jorge Almeida e Pinho | Márcia Lemos | Katarzyna Pisarska | Mark Wakefield


For further queries please contact:

CETAPS – Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies

Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto

Via Panorâmica, s/n

4150-564 PORTO



Close Relations – The CETAPS Lectures on Literature, Culture, Theatre and Translation

Close Relations is the title of a new annual lecture series that prompts major academics in the Humanities to interrogate strands in western imaginative production from early modernity to postmodernity. The initial impulse for this series came from two research areas, Relational Forms and Shakespeare and the English Canon, embedded in the Porto branch of CETAPS – the Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies; but, in its deliberately broad range, the series will resonate with most of the Centre’s defining research concerns.
In its inaugural year, the series will feature the following lectures:


1 July 2021, 18.00 / 6.00pm WEST

Peter Holland  

(McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies, University of Notre Dame;

Chair, The International Shakespeare Association)

When is King Lear not King Lear?’ (YouTube link








30 September 2021, 18.00 / 6.00pm WET

Lawrence Venuti 

(Professor Emeritus, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University) 

‘On a Universal Tendency to Debase Retranslations; or, 

The Instrumentalism of a Translation Fixation’ 







12 November 2021, 18.00 / 6.00pm WET

Maud Ellmann 

(Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago)

Borderation:  Fictions of the Northern Irish Border’








3 December 2021, 18.00 / 6.00pm WET

Roy Foster (Emeritus Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford; Professor of Irish history and Literature, Queen Mary University of London), 

“Writing in the Margins: partitioned identities in Irish literature”

The constraints resulting from the Covid 19 pandemic entail that initially these will be online events – but it is hoped that, as the year advances, it may become possible again to hold face to face academic events.


Relational Forms VI: Imagining the Nation: Literature, the Arts and Processes of National Construction

Close Relations – The CETAPS lectures

Literature and the Arts Since the 1960s

World into Word. The fam Vision of Seamus Heaney

Relational Forms V. Capital and the Imagination: Literature, Arts and Moderns Finance

Relational Forms IV. Literature and the Arts since the 1960s: Protest, Identity and the Imagination


Atlantic communities: Translation, mobility, hospitality

2nd International Conference Atlantic Communities: Translation | Conflict | Belief | Ideology

English Literature and the Disciplines of Knowledge, Early Modern to Eighteenth Century – A Trade for Light

Exchanges Between Literature and Science from the 1800s to the 2000s: Converging Realms


Cultures of Commemoration 2016 lecture

Collaboration with the Irish Embassy and ULICES, the University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies, in the programme for St. Patrick’s Festival Lisboa 2016.
This took the form of a lecture by Rui Carvalho Homem on ‘Cultures of Commemoration: the Case of Ireland’ –

Autumn 2016: an international conference on literature, rhetoric and legitimation – apropos the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

Relational Forms III Imagining Europe: Wars, Territories, Identities Representations in Literature and the Arts