This panel proposes an exploration of the multiple meanings of literary ‘work’ that may emerge from a study of the career of South African author and editor Ivan Vladislavić.
Vladislavić has played various roles, and occupied a range of institutional spaces, in the development of contemporary South African literary culture. In the 1980s, as fiction and social studies editor for Ravan Press and as assistant editor for the groundbreaking Staffrider magazine, Vladislavić was involved in the editing and publication of writers, black and white, who were openly hostile to the apartheid state. Through the late 1980s and to date, his reputation has grown, nationally and internationally, as a preeminent writer of post-apartheid South Africa, with a remarkably attenuated appreciation of urban Johannesburg. Throughout this period Vladislavić has worked with both prominent and new writers across a range of genres as a highly sought after freelance editor, as well as with architects, urbanists, photographers and artists, on projects that typically seek to reframe the ways in which everyday life in South Africa is perceived, imagined and lived.
As well as considering the ways in which existing material - ranging from the textual matter of the urban everyday to a host of literary and artistic intertexts - is variously worked on, worked through and re-worked, and so potentially transformed by Vladislavić’s writing, the panel is interested in examinations of the kinds of ‘work’ that are performed by and through his range of working methods. This idea of ‘literary work’ will enable an exploration of Vladislavić’s oeuvre in light of South African aesthetic production, print cultures and the book market. We therefore welcome proposals that may look to explore, although need not be limited to:
Vladislavić and anglophone literary culture, within South Africa, and without;
Book design and marketing: production and publication;
Intertextuality, literary labour and the world literary system;
Vladislavić and the ‘post-’: the postcolonial; the postmodern; the postapartheid, including the politics of transition;
Involvement and imbrication in other forms of cultural production: art, photography, architecture;
Exploding genre: documentary and social realism, short stories and novels, essays and creative non-fiction, art criticism;
Vladislavić’s literary modes and techniques;
Vladislavić as a major ‘South African voice’: reflections on the cultural ‘work’ of the writer; cultural intermediaries and the transformation of the South African literary field;
The politics of ordinariness: the banal versus the spectacular; surface versus depth;
Urban semiotics and poetics: the Afropolitan and African urban.
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted directly to the panel organisers Katie Reid (Sussex K.E.Reid@sussex.ac.uk) and Dr James Graham (Middlesex firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 28th 2014. Please also send any further queries or expressions of interest to both convenors.
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