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[ANNULÉ] The Contemporary American Novel and the New Frontier of Representation


28 May 2021

Responsable de l'activité

Boris Vejdovsky


Dr. Benjamin Pickford, UNIL

Dr. Boris Vejdovsky, UNIL


Dr Stephen Burn, University of Glasgow

Dre Rachel Sykes, University of Birmingham


In 1868, novelist John William DeForest coined the inescapable phrase, "the great American novel." Three years after the end of the Civil War and twenty-two years before the closing of the frontier, "America" was still an uncertain political and cultural concept. As philosopher Robert Pippin has it, the question was-and some will contend still is today-"Can such a collection of people, without much common tradition or history, without much of what had been seen as the social conditions of nationhood, become in some way or other a unity capable of something greater than just the sum of its parts?" During the 150 years that separate us from Deforest's memorable phrase, the American novel has sought to provide answers to the conceptual and aesthetic uncertainties of the nation. The contenders for the title of the great American novel are numerous; they include (and certainly are not limited to) Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and An American Tragedy. This one-day doctoral workshop will aim at examining the performative force of the contemporary American novel to assess its relevance as an appropriate response to today's crisis of the nation. We shall seek to examine the condition of the novel in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and see how White Noise, Infinite Jest, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, and Home continue and renew the tradition of the "The Great American Novel" by pushing further the last frontier of novelistic representation. The workshop will offer different interactive formats (presentations, discussions, workshops) to reflect on the condition of the novel and contemporary modes of representation. Ph.D. candidates will interact with our distinguished speakers and will be given the opportunity to present their own research.





Deadline for registration 27.05.2021
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