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Kazuo Ishiguro and the illusion of the World

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Organizer: James Tink

Co-Organizer: David Huddart

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On awarding Kazuo Ishiguro the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, the committee stated that his work “uncovered the abyss beneath the illusory sense of connection with the world.” In the context of the twenty-first century global novel, it seems worth investigating more closely what forms the sense of the world, its illusory connections, and the uncovered abyss take in his fiction.  Does it mainly explore, as Nancy Armstrong suggests, the legacy of the liberal humanist novel through a focus on individual agency, social connection, and the testing of reader sympathies and affects? Or, is it necessary to consider other approaches to ideas of world-making, the abyssal, the inhuman, the phantasm, the Real, or other unknowable aspects of the world in the text? As contemporary criticism continues to extend in scope from humanism towards post-human, catastrophic, or planetary approaches to literature, this seminar will share new ways in which to think of how Ishiguro’s fiction is a fantasy of a relationship to the world, or to many other worlds. 

Possible Topics include:

Rethinking Periodization of Novels 

Comparative Readings of Ishiguro

Translation Studies 

Story Worlds and World-Making in Literature 

Studies of Literary Form 

Critique and Anti-Critique in Literary Criticism 

The Post-Human 

New Materialism 

Affect Studies 

Allegory and Ideology in Fiction 



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