Paper abstracts are invited for an International Association for Literary Journalism Studies session on Literary Journalism and Catastrophe at the American Comparative Literature Association annual conference at Brown University, Providence, RI from March 29th to April 1st, 2012. In keeping with the conference theme, this session will consider the complex relationship between literary journalism and crisis. Literary journalism – “journalism as literature” – has a longstanding relationship with the catastrophic. From The Storm, Daniel Defoe’s report of the hurricane which devastated much of southern and central England and Wales in 1703, to Stephanie Nolen’s 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, and, more recently, Into the Forbidden Zone, William T. Vollmann’s account of his journey through the evacuated area around the Fukishima power plant just weeks after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of March 2011, literary journalists have often been attracted to scenes of catastrophe and collapse for their material. But, unlike their counterparts in the mainstream news media, literary journalists find the truth of their subjects less in the raw, spectacular facts of catastrophe than in the lived experiences of those who suffer its often traumatic consequences as well as in the cultural understanding such stories may yield. As Mark Kramer has noted, “Literary journalists write mostly about routine events,” and this focus remains even when the everyday is disrupted by the most calamitous of events. This seminar seeks to investigate from a comparative perspective the diverse ways in which literary journalism, as a genre, has responded to collapse in all of its forms – environmental, political, historical, economic, personal, and even the current collapse of journalism itself. We are particularly interested in papers that discuss literary journalism across cultures and welcome all research methodologies and scholarly approaches.
If interested, please e-mail IALJS contact, Rob Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org. The submission deadline for paper abstracts is November 15th via the ACLA website (http://acla.org/acla2012/?page_id=45). Submissions by graduate students are encouraged.
Dr. Robert Alexander,
Director, Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Studies Program
Affiliated Member, M.A. Program in Social Justice and Equity Studies
Department of English Language and Literature Brock University
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1
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