Call for papers for an international conference to take place at Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée (research group LISAA (Literatures, Critical Thought and the Arts), subgroup SEA (English studies)): Thursday 23rd April and Friday 24th April 2020.

 Due date for proposals: Wednesday 15th January 2020


Professor Marie-Françoise Alamichel –

Professor William Dow –

Dr Andrew Hodgson –


With this conference we seek to explore overlooked and/or under-read spaces in anglophone fiction. If, as Philippe Sollers writes, “the novel is how society speaks to itself” we here look to analyse how the innovative or experimental treatment of the novel, of fictive representation, functions within that process of societal reflection and conversation. An integral part of that project is the opening up of what “experimental” and “innovative” potentially means in relation to the literary object itself. If these words have traditionally described a radical formal dynamic, we here push that signification further into both message and meaning generated in an equally experimental and/or innovative content, and the potentials generated by the interactions of that content and form for extra-textual affectivity – not only upon the reader, but how the societal conditions under which the book was written demanded such form as an integrally necessary communicative device.


Opening up the periodisation and national designations by which experimental or innovative literatures have largely been classified, with this conference we aim to carry out a series of reappraisals of modern and contemporary, that is generally from the 19th century to the present day, anglophone literatures through a refocusing upon their more radical artefacts. In so doing we look to evoke new spaces of critical discourse around artefact, aesthetic and critical representation within innovative and/or experimental modern and contemporary anglophone fiction.


Potential themes to be approached:

  1. The relation of experimental writing to contemporary literary studies.
  2. The relation of innovative and/or experimental writing to historical contemporary moments.
  3. What aesthetic potentials are contained with literary “innovation”; literary “experimentation.”
  4. The excavation of hidden, degraded, and ignored experimental modes developed among marginalised writers and communities.
  5. The criticism on experimental writing that suggests an array of reading practices guided by the specific poetic forms and interpretative protocols that experimental writers employ. How does experimental writing engender new relations of reading through its formal and affective provocations?
  6. How in these texts, does content and form combine and interact, and with what results?
  7. How do these texts redeploy the status and roles of writer and reader in fictive space?
  8. How might innovative and/or experimental literary artefacts provide a societal space of critical representation? How might this recast reader interaction with fiction as a heuristic or formative socio-cultural   process?
  9. Do experimental modes of writing, and reading, present potentials for engagement with traumatic experience elsewhere unavailable? How might these texts present a viable aesthetic for that representation?

1      The multi-modal and multi-media forms of experimental writing as forms of political and cultural commentary (e.g., Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, The Racial Imaginary).

How might experimental writing practice lead to complex interrogations of gender and sexuality, and human experience of those spaces?

1      How can experimental writing inspire anti-imperial, decolonial, and post-colonial aesthetic politics?

H     How might modes of innovation and experimentation with standardised literary product be seen to provide class critique?

1     Might the affective, transportive qualities of experimental aesthetic provide a challenge, evolution or perhaps a moving beyond the paradigm of identity politics?

1     How might experimental writing in a globalising world map test the limits of its own relationship to the world literary field as well as prevailing imaginaries of the world?

1     What is the world-making potential of the textual experiment as it interrogates and rearticulates its position within the world literary field and the long history of social transformation?

How does experimental writing work with pre-existing cultural documents to uncover hidden historical claims and voices?

Might the ‘problematised’ ‘text-world’ evoked by these texts interact, or reveal something ‘problematic’ in ‘real-world’?