Colloquium | Loneliness, Solitude, Aloneness: Social problem or personal choice?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as measures of social distancing, restricted movement, or closed borders were taken, social interaction was being limited, and as such, loneliness became one of the new major challenges to be combated. As a consequence, in the last three years a series of discussions have been triggered around this and other themes: space and the inner world, domestic life or the house.
In any case, and even though social isolation has become more pronounced during the last few years, loneliness is not a problem unique to the post-pandemic, as art and literature well demonstrate. These areas are privileged spaces for the representation of interior landscapes, offering themselves to reflections that have as their main objective the study and analysis of loneliness and its variants, such as sozinhice, lexically created by José Luandino Vieira.
If, on the one hand, human beings have an innate tendency to live and experience the world in community, and if it is true that since time immemorial men and women have gathered together to eat, dance, and even to bury their dead, it is no less true to say that some remain voluntarily or involuntarily on the sidelines of these encounters, whether from a more concrete and empirical, or more spiritual and metaphorical perspective. Art and literature, as expressions of all that is human, therefore do not shy away from accounting for the emotions and experience of these outcasts or marginalized people, as is observable from the earliest artifacts to those that are our contemporaries today. Think of the loneliness of Ulysses far from Ithaca, of a hardened Adamastor facing the immensity of the sea, of Anna Karenina fated to social isolation because of her passion, of the foreigner Meursault facing death, of the animalistic Kafkaesque Gregor Samsa, locked in his room and rejected by his own family. The examples are endless. The lonely will not, however, always be unhappy in the experience of that loneliness. In 1891, Emily Dickinson wrote: “I’m Nobody! […] How dreary – to be – Somebody!”.
Inspired by this ambiguity and tension (loneliness as problem, loneliness as solution or opportunity) latent in the picture Cape Cod Morning by Edward Hopper, the CITCEM’s Local and Global Representations Group is organizing a colloquium at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto, on November 22 and 23, 2023. On the one hand, we intend to problematize the exploration of such an important and universal theme of loneliness, giving an account of its social and aesthetic-literary complexity, but also to question the profits and/or a certain pleasure that may result from it.
Francisco Topa (U. Porto/ CITCEM)
Carlos Teixeira (U. Portucalense/CITCEM/CETAPS)
Mafalda Sofia Gomes (U. Porto/ CITCEM)
María del Pilar Nicolás Martínez (U. Porto/ CITCEM)