I am inviting 300-word (maximum) abstracts for a panel titled "The Campus Novel as Equipment for Living." The panel will be organized within the framework of an international conference on “Rhetoric as Equipment for Living. Kenneth Burke, Culture and Education,” scheduled to take place May 22-25, 2013 in Ghent, Belgium. More information about the conference can be found here: http://www.cultureeducation.ugent.be/kennethburke Deadline: January 30th, 2013. Please email the abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The campus novel, an Anglo-American genre, having as its protagonists alternately students, teaching staff, and full professors, acts as a barometer measuring the state of the nation and education. While critically commenting on campus life, often spotlighting subversive behaviors and contesting the status quo, the campus novel portrays the individual’s struggle for personal advancement and definition of one’s own identity and values. It serves as a battleground for concepts and ideologies pervasive in the times it limns. Many established American and British authors and some international writers living and working in the US explored the potential of this genre, especially its satirical penchant and “pejorative poetics” (Kenneth Womack) in order to comment on contemporaneous issues.
Campus novels will thrive as long as organizations of higher education exist. Depending on their focus, be it institutional, or individual, they provide recipes for ineffective and effective functioning in the academic context. Taking the cue from Kenneth Burke’s concept of literature as “equipment for living,” I assert that the raison d’être of the campus novels could be describing strategies for handling various, mostly critical, situations in the ivory tower. Campus novels can be viewed as manuals for students and professors alike, catalogues of do’s and don’ts; toolboxes for critical self–reflection. They can console, warn, and entertain – all in an effort to educate.
What makes a novel a campus novel (an umbrella term for academic, college, and university novels)? What themes do the narratives of the university foreground? What other genres do they meld with? What types of campus novel can be discerned? Case studies of campus novels (preferably from the Anglo-American context) are particularly welcome, as well as comparative studies of campus novels. Also in demand are attempts at coherent definition and categorizations of this (sub?)genre.
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