I was the youngest among the founding members and grew up with ISCLT both as a person and a literature enthusiast. The ISCLT idea has always motivated me and enlarged my horizon. My passion for literature has followed various paths and I have always found great inspiration in all our Conferences. Moreover, the sense of friendship that we ISCLTers share, the vitality of our activities presenting papers, acting, dancing and singing, the feeling of “being a family” each time we meet and the sadness we feel when we all part at the end of the Conference, are all valuable aspects of our being together. ISCLT is important to me. It is unique.

 Dr. Marina Catalano-Mc Vey

Literature for Life

When visionary post-WWII scholars in 1947 started the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies at Schloss Leopoldskron they hoped through dialogue to contribute to better understanding between war-haunted nations on their way towards peace. Participants – to begin with mostly from Europe and The United States – were invited to week-long gatherings about a wide range of literary, social and political topics.
In July 1973 the Salzburg Seminar offered a 14-day gathering focusing on Modern American Literature and a year after on Modern American Drama. The experience was highly interesting and multi-dimensional: outstanding scholars shared their life with literature and theatre with us, we analyzed and discussed texts, did productions and were offered inculturating excursions – to say nothing about good food fellowship and evenings in the ‘Bierstube’.

Friendships grew and the idea of annual reunions came up. The guidelines for such gatherings were laid down in 1975 in Florence for the founding of ISCLT (International Society for Contemporary Literature and Theatre). Since then we have enjoyed inspirational gatherings in a number of European countries and in the US. I was deeply impressed by members’ enthusiasm to detect relevant contemporary themes and agree upon the choice for the next year. Also, members were excellent at finding interesting sites at reasonable prices. I was very happy that we decided not to go for publication of our scholarly contributions, which added to the inspiring yet relaxed atmosphere during our days together.

Lectures, workshops, poetry readings, play productions, evening entertainments and well-planned outings to neighbouring cultural sites enriched my life for more than 45 years. I was happy that my wife and – for a couple of years our teenage children – joined us. If anything, ISCLT is and has been a splendidly inspirational cross-cultural dimension of our lives, which I am deeply grateful for.

Karl-Heinz Westarp, Dr. Phil. Et Lic.Theol.


ISCLT has had many milestones in the past years, all impressive and memorable since they have all spoken on behalf of firm and enjoyable human bondages that have lasted for a long number of years and that have created a great number of pleasant gatherings to us all.

In my opinion, Belma Baskett has always been a strong pillar of all our ISCLT activities. I have always highly valued her wise and clear-cut decisions, I believe that we all merited from her way of leading ISCLT from conference to conference, during so many years. Besides doing the demanding task of the Executive Secretary, she has always given memorable papers, directed plays and acted in many of them.

Radojka Vercko

A very rewarding chapter in our lives

In the case of Kay and me, what seemed like an offhand conversation about a society called ISCLT enrolled us in the possibility of increasing our love of contemporary literature and theater. We had no idea that by traveling to Lovran in July of 2011, we would be opening a new and very rewarding chapter in our lives. We highly value the pleasures of literature and friendship that ISCLT has bestowed on us, and we thank Belma Baskett for this.
Eric Farber


ISCLT is a unique enterprise, being a blend of scholarship, friendship, internationalism, creativity and discovery.
For one or two weeks each year the annual conference, which is at the centre of ISCLT, provides a number of welcome opportunities,
• to renew friendships that one has maintained for years, with a group of interesting, talented people from a wide range of different countries, to find out what has been happening in their lives and in their home countries, what they have been reading and writing, and to share one’s own experiences over the past year;
• to produce a paper on the conference’s annual topic that will be delivered before the group, providing a stimulus to maintain research interests or discover new areas for study, or to share one’s reading of a book or books that you think will appeal to the group
• to participate in group activities, such as theatrical performance or discussion of short stories
• to spend time in an interesting part of the world, to explore historical sites or other places of interest
• to have a laugh, enjoy each other’s company, eat and drink well and relax surrounded by familiar faces.
To keep going ISCLT needs new members and new members are given the warmest of welcomes. You will soon find yourself part of ISCLT’s warm embrace and, like me, look forward to meeting up again with lively friends from around the world.

Prof. Mick Jardine

Reflections on ISCLT

I am sure there are many reasons why ISCLT has lasted so long, but the one I will highlight is the balance of programming that has evolved. For a conference to be two weeks, a now established fine-tuning helps retain its attraction.
  There is the overall division between activities and free time. We are invariably in an often beautiful, and always interesting, location, and enough free time is available to explore it individually or in small groups.
  Being a conference concerned with both contemporary literature and theatre, the activities are themselves varied: with the morning dedicated to papers and discussions on novels and poetry (not forgetting our coffee and biscuits at the mid point), and parts of the afternoons used for workshops on particular books or writers and rehearsals of short plays. These plays then feed into a programme of evening performances that also include poetry and prose readings, slideshows and movies.
  The organised day trips add wonderfully to the mix, as do the legendary, to us at least, ISCLT parties, each one hosted by members from a particular country or group of countries, and with related drinks and music. The final, even more legendary, ISCLT banquet might be seen as the world champion of these parties. I am a devotee of the Bauhaus, and the parties there were vital to its success. I think the same might be said of ISCLT, too.
  When I mention to conference-wise academics that ISCLT is for two weeks (though there are members, like me, who are sometimes “one weekers”), I sometimes see their eyes roll in disbelief, but ISCLT is a little bit different and very special. A lot is packed in, and two weeks means it is never too frantic: with a leisurely pace, literature can be enjoyed, and we present our prepared efforts in the context of having fun as well. I also like to tell people that at ISCLT I have encountered acute literary judgements. I recall a member, Tony Bloomfield, introducing the work of Michael Ondaatje quite a few years before he became well known by winning the Booker Prize with The English Patient. The ISCLT antennae were that year working particularly well.
  My first ISCLT was at Dubrovnik in 1988, when the Programme Chair was William Pratt. For the following year I was planning a series of events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the origins of the Imagist poetry movement, under the title Homage to Imagism. William Pratt, a professor at Miami University, Ohio, is one of the world’s leading authorities on Imagism, and he agreed to organise and Chair an academic symposium, and this took place at the HQ of the Poetry Society in London: one of the papers was given by Alan Rodway, a Reader at the University of Nottingham and another ISCLTer. In 1990, AMS Press in New York published the book Homage to Imagism, coedited by William Pratt and myself. Subsequently, and stretching into the new millennium, we have worked together on other Imagist related events. These have included a day of academic presentations and activities at the literature venue within London’s Royal Festival Hall. This shows an example of ISCLT launching collaborations that are later developed. In our ISCLT lives, Professor William Pratt is Bill and I am Bob, because ISCLT, above all, is about friendship and our own ways of celebrating an internationalist outlook.

Prof. Robert Richardson


On the occasion of ISCLT’s 45th anniversary in 2020, we wrote a Booklet, which gives a good idea of what our Society has meant all these years for its members: