For close to five years some of us had been working on a research project concerning what is often referred to as ‘marginalized literatures’. We were initially looking for parameters and criteria that would help us define the vast and confusing field of literatures usually labelled ‘marginal’—initially, such genres as the Western, Gothic, and Science-Fiction, Detective fiction, and so on. But other areas were not so easily amenable to classification in terms of genre: Afro-American literatures, or Children’s Literature, were conspicuous cases. We thought the term ‘marginal’ had to be applied in two different ways: as denoting canonical rejection, or as suggesting merely canonical indifference. Quickly other fields emerged (the fairy-tale, for instance) to which the term ‘marginalized’ could hardly apply, while it became obvious that some of the peculiarities we found ‘in the margins’ did seem to apply to perfectly canonical writings (e.g., women’s writings), if in yet another sense.

            Gradual dissatisfaction with the concept of marginalization led us into, on the one hand, abandoning premises which, as initially conceived, had become too narrow for our purposes and, on the other hand, exploring the more formal aspects of the margin—its geometry, so to speak. This exploration in turn placed us in touch with the anthropological notion of rites of passage and Turner’s extensive work on the concept of the threshold. It soon became clear that we were not really discussing spaces on the border of things but exploring spaces in between other spaces—not dealing with margins but with thresholds. This led us to the question whether an application of the concept of liminality to literary texts was at all possible, let alone productive. We needed a forum to articulate, and find answers for, this question, and thus the International Seminar on Liminality and Text emerged as an experiment to meet the challenge posed by the new direction our research was taking.

            The ISLT is a concentrated conference, mostly held on a biennial basis. After a run of five successful encounters the ISLT has proven an important instrument for the testing and dissemination of liminalist research. The sixth ISLT, dealing with “The Subject on the Threshold”, is scheduled to take place in April 2012. For details see The Seminar. 


Belén Piqueras Cabrerizo                                                    


Organizing Committee:

Belén Piqueras Cabrerizo                                                    
Esteban Pujals Gesalí

Luisa Antón-Pacheco
Senior Lecturer in English Literature, UAM
Head of the Department of English Studies

Manuel Aguirre


Advisory Committee:                     

Jesús Benito
University of Valladolid

Nancy Bredendick
UAM (retired)

Miriam Mandel
Tel-Aviv University (retired)

Isabel Soto


Management Committee:


Manuel Aguirre

David Amelang

Ina Böttger

Yevgeniy Pavlovskyy

Ester Pellejero

Beatriz Sánchez

Robert K. Shepherd

Maria Anna Zazzarino