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The British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS) is a scholarly association that brings together academics and practitioners from across the UK and beyond in order to explore the current moment and its contexts. We are committed to literary studies in the broadest sense, including written, visual, performative and audible texts, in English and in other languages. We aim to foster research at every level and to support both practice and pedagogy. The association was formally established in 2017.

The rationale for setting up a scholarly association dedicated to the field of contemporary literary studies was that we, as scholars of contemporary literature, felt this new and growing field is very vibrant both inside and outside the academy, but that this liveliness could be fostered by an association through which we would become more than the sum of our parts, and which could support our research, our students, the field and its pedagogy.

The association aims to be inclusive:

  • BACLS is not restricted to Anglophone literary studies and ‘British’ refers to the location of the organising scholars, rather than the range of the association.
  • We take ‘contemporary’ in our title to reflect our feeling that that the association means to focus not a historical period but a ‘rolling sense’ of the contemporary: indeed, this is what makes the field different and unique. Rather than extensive debates about periodisation and ‘when the contemporary began’, the association is dedicated to a fluid and hybrid understanding of the contemporary ‘moment’ as an ever-evolving experience of the contemporary.
  • ‘Literary studies’ is similarly intended to open up the association to scholars working on the contemporary in literature and cognate disciplines, including comparative and world literatures, postcolonial studies, translation studies, linguistics, performance studies, media theory, comics studies, video games studies, adaptation studies, the study of popular music, cultural studies, critical theory, and digital humanities.

The association’s mission statement is as follows:

The British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies brings together scholars and practitioners from across the UK and beyond in order to explore the current moment and its contexts. We are committed to literary studies in the broadest sense, including written, visual, performative and audible texts, in English and in other languages. We aim to foster research at every level and to support both practice and pedagogy.

If you would like to get in touch to find out more about BACLS, please use our contact form. Alternatively, you can join in the discussion by visiting our Discussion Forum page.

Featured image by julie rohloff under a CC BY-SA license.