Ulyssei@s, a digital encyclopedia of “displaced” writers and other creators, resulted from the activity of a group of researchers of the Institute for Comparative Literature Margarida Losa (ILC) which, under the auspices of “Liminalities” at first and “Inter/Transculturalities” presently, has dedicated itself to the study of the different cultural and literary aspects of “displacement”.
In 2005, the international colloquium “Textos e Mundos em Deslocação/Textes et Mondes en Déplacement/Moving Texts and Worlds”, organised by the ILC at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto, resulting in a double volume of the Cadernos de Literatura Comparada (14/15-2006), was the first step for the project of a public platform of interaction and dissemination, continued more recently with «Deslocações Criativas» (in Cadernos de Literatura Comparada, 24/25, 2011 + DVD «Conversas com Criadores»). It is through this open-access digital approach that the platform intends to continue to expand online, both in authors and readers interested in the writing and issues of displacement.
Having established the indispensable borders of a particularly vast research universe, Ulyssei@s puts forth a space to disseminate the work of writers and other artistic creators of the 20th and 21st century, which is connected to their actual experiences of displacement, privileging those with Portugal as a point of crossing, departure, and/or arrival. Different modalities of displacement are taken into account: from leisurely or discovery travel to migration and exile, through professional or academic trips and sojourns.
At the initial stage, the authors (or one of their works in particular) with which the Ulyssei@s collaborators have come across in their respective research careers are presented. Given the scientific purposes and editorial choices of this thematic encyclopaedia, writers published in book form or creators whose work directly or implicitly relates to literary texts were given preference. Gradually, the encyclopaedia will expand to other authors whose cultural and artistic activity fits the terms of the displacement described above.
With respect for some of the limitations and, mostly, the specificities of a digital platform, Ulyssei@s engenders a mode of reflexive research which intends to surpass merely biographic or documental entries, and attempts a hybrid form of critical discourse, based on the articulation of carefully selected information with an analysis shaped by both the thematic focus of the encyclopaedia and the dimensions of a digital entry, subject to change as authors see fit.
As an interactive project, Ulyssei@s is also intended to catalyse parallel cultural activities and/or other studies and reflexions which deepen a contextualised reading of the conditions and literary/artistic repercussions of “displacement”, avoiding all reductive approaches to the artistic phenomenon.
Under the aegis of Ulysses, who, in Western tradition, continues to represent the displaced hero par excellence, but also suggesting his female counterpoint, Ulyssei@s aims to be, in short, another form of travel and of weaving a web-network at the scale of the virtual world, enabling the discovery or recognition of those writers and creators whose displacements were transferred into the universe of literature and/or other arts.