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Formal Innovation in Small Literatures

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Organizer: Andrea Cabajsky

Co-Organizer: Matthew Cormier

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The seminar organizers seek proposals that investigate connections between theme and form in small literatures. We are particularly interested in receiving proposals that focus on formal innovation as a means of transcending traditional themes, expanding horizons of expectation, or achieving more agency for writers from small cultures.

Small literatures have traditionally been dominated by poetry and drama, that is, by genres charged with the task of taking oral specificity and making it resonate on a public stage. How have writers from small cultures innovated in poetry and drama to transcend traditional themes? Do other genres, such as the novel, continue to struggle as they attempt to take root and take off? Emergent writers often seek to distinguish themselves from their predecessors (both foreign and domestic) and in doing so to expand horizons of expectation. What do their literary experiments look and sound like? Writers from small cultures seem inevitably bound to negotiate the weight of tradition. Tradition can manifest itself externally, arriving through imported metropolitan models, and internally, through singularly influential writers who have set new standards for local literature. How have writers negotiated the weight of tradition while also creating more agency for themselves? How, if at all, has a spirit of literary innovation helped to push small literatures beyond traditional preoccupations with cultural minority and marginality towards something new?

The seminar organizers seek examples of innovation in small literatures, broadly defined. We encourage proposals that deal with a range of literatures, from a range of cultures, written in a variety of languages.

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