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De-Centering Magic Realism

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Organizer: Carlo Stranges

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Over the years, many novels and authors have been classified under the category of Magic Realism. The name comes from the German art movement of the nineteen-twenties but has been used to define a variety of literary works from the twentieth century, which share the common trait of a great attention to details and, as Matthew Strecher puts it, a realistic setting invaded by something too strange to be believed.
As with any attempt at categorization, the origin and boundaries of Magic Realism overlap with those of other movements, such as post-modernism and post-colonialism. One of the elements that seem to connect the works in the movement is that many of their authors come from countries and cultures previously marginalized by the central role that scholarship gave to the western literary scene. Most notably, Magic Realism has been connected to authors from Latin America and Asia, as well as African American and women writers. Gabriel-Garcia Marquez is one of the most relevant figures associated with the movement, along with Isabel Allende and Jorge Luis Borges, but also Japanese writers Haruki Murakami and Kenzaburo Oe, Indian author Salman Rushdie, or African American novelist Toni Morrison have been sometimes classified under the category of Magic Realism.
Nevertheless, the attempts at envisioning Magic Realism as a counterpoint to the centrality of Euro-American literature have often been met with criticism. In fact, Virginia Woolf and Franz Kafka have been both said to be precursors to the genre, and Jose Saramago is considered to be one of its most significant representatives. Over the years many European and American writers, such as Italo Calvino, Dino Buzzati, Marcel Aymé, Joyce Carol Oates, William Faulkner and John Updike have all been associated with the term as well.
The seminar would explore the various ways in which the genre has been interpreted and developed around the world: what magic realism has been considered to be or if the category is still a viable one.
Papers written from theoretical perspectives as well as papers focused on particular writers, cultural frameworks or regions related to the topic are welcome.
 

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