22-23 September 2017, University of Wrocław, Poland CALL FOR PAPERS Fragmentary Writing in Contemporary British and American Fiction


Fragmentary Writing in Contemporary British and American Fiction

22-23 September 2017, University of Wrocław, Poland

Organised by Vanessa Guignery (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
and Wojciech Drag (University of Wrocław)

Conference website: http://ensconferences.vanessaguignery.com/

Deadline for proposals: 15 March 2017

In 1968, Donald Barthelme had one of his narrators declare: “Fragments
are the only forms I trust.” The last decades have brought a number of
acclaimed novels in Britain and the US that illustrate their authors’
interest in fragmentary structures. David Mitchell constructed Cloud
Atlas (2005) out of six stories with different settings, characters and
generic features. David Markson produced an 800-page-long tetralogy,
culminating in The Last Novel (2007), which juxtaposes several thousand
succinct anecdotes and quotations with metafictional references to the
elusive authorial figure. The year 2014 saw the publication of three
notable fragmentary novels: Will Eaves’s The Absent Therapist – an
amalgam of the voices of 150 speakers, Richard McGuire’s Here – a
graphic novel created out of over 150 images (non-chronologically
arranged) of the same location throughout several million years, and
Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation – an account of a marriage crisis
narrated with the use of several hundred loosely connected paragraphs.
As the example of Cloud Atlas – alongside those of Zadie Smith’s NW,
Anne Enright’s The Green Road and, most recently, Julian Barnes’s The
Noise of Time – demonstrates, fragmentation is not only the domain of
niche, “experimental” writing.

Although it may have arguably earlier origins, fragmentation has been a
vital aspect of twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature. Several
canonical novels of modernism – such as Ulysses and The Waves – could be
classified as fragmentary, since they are constructed in parts that
refuse to cohere, and as Gabriel Josipovici suggested, the fragmented
form of modernist works may be seen as a response to the human need to
escape linearity.More radical examples of fragmented novels were written
in the 1960s and 70s by authors sometimes associated with postmodernism:
J.G. Ballard, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, B.S. Johnson
and Gabriel Josipovici, among others. Despite the fact that many
renowned novelists have contributed to fragmentary writing, the term
itself is rarely used in Anglophone criticism. The aim of our conference
is to postulate a renewed engagement with fragmentary literature. We are
particularly interested in contemporary writing and invite papers that
approach chosen aspects of fragmentation in British and American fiction
published over the last five decades (post-1966). We wish to examine the
typicalingredients of the fragmentary mode (such as enumeration,
non-linearity and the unconventional layout of the page), the mechanics
of organising the disparate parts, and the various rationales for
writing in fragments.

Proposals may consider but are not limited to:

* the extent to which fragmentation in contemporary literature borrows
from modernist (or postmodernist) experiments and the degree to which it
creates its own aesthetics,
* the correspondence between literary fragmentation and the social,
political and technological reality of the contemporary world (e.g.,
Twitter fiction),
* the influence of various art forms (particularly the visual arts and
cinema) on literary fragmentation (e.g., Joseph Frank’s notion of
“spatial form” and Sharon Spencer’s conception of the “architectonic
* the fragmentation of a single monolithic reassuring voice into a myriad
of voices,
* the physical fragmentation of the page,
* card-shuffle texts,
* forking-path narratives,
* novels built out of potentially self-contained parts (blurring the
distinction between the novel and the collection of short stories),
* generic eclecticism and the aesthetics of mash-up,
* collage-like works, altered fictions and other examples of appropriation.

Keynote speakers:

Dr Alison Gibbons – Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University,
author of Mark Z. Danielewski, Multimodality, Cognition, and
Experimental Literature (2014) and co-editor of The Routledge Companion
to Experimental Literature (2014).

Dr Grzegorz Maziarczyk – Assistant Professor of English and American
Literature at John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, author ofThe
Narratee in Contemporary British Fiction(2005) andThe Novel as Book:
Textual Materiality in Contemporary Fiction in English(2013).

Dr Merritt Moseley –Professor of English Literature at the University of
North Carolina at Asheville, editor of four volumes on British and Irish
Novelists Since 1960, one on Booker Prize-Winners and one on the
academic novel, and the author of monographs on David Lodge, Kingsley
Amis, Julian Barnes, Michael Frayn, and Pat Barker and Jonathan Coe.

Proposals (300-400 words), together with a biographical note, should be
sent to Wojciech Drąg (wojciech.drag@uwr.edu.pl) and Vanessa Guignery
(vanessaguignery@wanadoo.fr) by 15
March 2017.




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