CFP: Encyclopedic Fictions of 21st-Century American Literature
Northeast Modern Language Association Convention
Rochester, New York, March 15-18, 2012
Writing an encyclopedic fiction has constituted a bid for literary greatness at least since the publication of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow in 1973. In light of the fact that the year 2010 saw the publication of no fewer than three such encyclopedic fictions (Joshua Cohen’s Witz, Adam Levin’s The Instructions, and Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel), this panel will examine the continued relevance of the encyclopedic form as a means by which authors stake their claims to places in the canon of American literature.
What is the continuing place of the encyclopedic novel in the 21st century? How do the texts of this newer wave of encyclopedic fictions position themselves in relation to predecessors such as Gravity’s Rainbow, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1996), and Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997)? Do such fictions represent the continued validity of the postmodern aesthetic that informed that earlier wave of encyclopedic fictions, or do they rather constitute a challenge that signifies the end of postmodernism as a cultural dominant? What of the earlier wave of postmodernist authors who continue to produce encyclopedic fictions, as Pynchon has done with Against the Day (2006)? How do the texts of this newer wave of encyclopedic fictions respond to their particular moment in America’s sexual, racial, and geostrategic politics?
Please send 250-500-word abstracts to Stephen Hock at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 30, 2011.
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