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The Novel Under Pressure

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Organizer: Gloria Fisk

Co-Organizer: Sheri-Marie Harrison

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As it circulates in English, the realist novel is a cultural artifact of the age of Enlightenment in Europe, which is to say that it is a cultural artifact of empire. But if the genre is underwritten by grand narratives of imperial power, it does not reiterate those narratives without slyness or critique, as many theorists of the genre have observed. This seminar builds on that body of scholarship by tracing its extensions through recent developments in diaspora studies, indigenous studies, and other areas that theorize the aesthetics and politics of globalization in the twenty-first century. 
  We hope to assemble scholars who work on different national and linguistic traditions, because we aim to bring a comparative approach to the central questions we’re asking: How do contemporary novelists adapt the genre they inherit to represent life as we live it in the twenty-first century, when all manner of borders blur under the pressure of global capitalism? What is the novel’s contemporary relationship to the local? In what ways is the contemporary novel interacting with the defining values of decolonization and postcoloniality? How does the genre of the novel deploy various sub-genres, popular and otherwise, to register both aesthetic and political shifts?  The theorists we imagine as foundational to this conversation include Lisa Lowe, Sylvia Wynter, Rinaldo Walcott, among others. We are eager to expand that roster of names with a particular interest in scholars who theorize the ways novels by minoritized writers circulate through the Anglophone world. 

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