Posts tagged novel
A new piece by Chris Daley in the excellent online journal Alluvium about railway fiction. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs:
Railways are news. On the one hand, they are the source of consternation as above inflation fare rises couple with the perceived drudgery of commuting to characterise the railways as a site of soaring ticket prices and overcrowded, invariably late trains. But this sentiment lives alongside whimsy and romanticism, be it through preservation lines or the restoration of ageing steam engines. This paradoxical image of the railway system is, however, nothing new within the British popular imagination and as Ian Carter (2000) points out, this may have something to do with the railways’ historical link to contested areas of modern everyday life: “So much that we take for granted today was invented or perfected in the nineteenth century to facilitate railways’ development, or to limit their potential for political, fiscal or physical mayhem: standardised time, a disciplined and uniform labour force, large-scale bureaucratic organisation, joint-stock industrial corporations, close State regulation of private capitalists’ activities.”
Similarly, British fiction has maintained an ambivalent relationship with railways. Confronted with a new revolutionary transport system, Victorian novelists offered the most sustained exploration of the potentialities of trains, yet by being, as Nicholas Daly (1999) puts it, ‘the agent and icon of the acceleration of the pace of everyday life’ (463) in the mid-nineteenth century, the railways were also a source for the countless anxieties of industrialisation. Contemporary fiction, in Britain at least, is curiously quiet on the railways, with their appearance often limited to neo-Victorian narratives that attempt to reignite the energy of the steam age. However, to mark the 150 year anniversary of the London Underground, Penguin will release, in March, a series of railway writings that could, perhaps, ignite an imaginative investigation of a transport system that is often seen as mundane, yet is simultaneously a potent symbol of transformation. It is therefore apt to briefly map the terrain of railways in fiction and popular culture in order to anticipate where any future speculation may venture.
Read further at: http://www.alluvium-journal.org/2013/01/12/railways-and-fiction/
Wednesday 28th November, 4.00pm – 5.30pm
Room 106, Wells Street, University of Westminster, London W1T
Martin Eve (University of Sussex)
‘Opening children’s eyes’: Overloaded Forms and the Didactic Function
Since Pynchon, the postmodern encyclopaedic form has been recognised as possessing an ethical core. Indeed, Gravity’s Rainbow was only briefly treated solely as a structure of interminable play and quickly found its place, especially in light of Pynchon’s other novels, as a politicised work focusing on the military-industrial complex and contemporary America. It can equally be asserted, though, that the “ethical turn” in literary studies is sited at a specific, historicized moment and is not without its own problems: when we say “ethical”, rather than “moralising”, are we, in fact, merely refusing to recognise the relativity and transitivity of our own moral strictures? To begin to formulate a less innocent, more experienced, new terminology for this mode, this paper will look at two overloaded works, Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. Through an analysis of these immense, torrential novels, the paper will unearth their inherent didactic function, examine the way in which they conscript our intellectual capital to pre-dispose us towards their ethics and draw out the place of teaching and learning, through the representation of the university and academia.
Wednesday 14th November, 4.00pm – 5.15pm
Wells Street, room 106
Bianca Leggett (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Englishness Elsewhere: Exploring Parochialism in the Contemporary English Travel Novel
Ever since the days of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, English fiction has repeatedly portrayed travelling protagonists who feel possessed by the need to be English elsewhere, that is, to travel. Terry Eagleton has suggested that the ‘striking number of contemporary novels written in England but set in some non-English locale suggests ‘a sense that from the viewpoint of “creative” writing there is something peculiarly unpropitious about the typical social experience of an industrially declining, culturally parochial, post-imperial nation.’ This paper traces the historical and cultural origins of the myth of the English as a nation that both loves travel and yet remains staunchly parochial, suggesting that contemporary Crusoe-stories are part of how the English have attempted to understand their role in a post-war postcolonial world. It considers how this myth is revisited and revised in three stories of Englishmen in Continental Europe, Ian McEwan’s The Innocent (1990), Julian Barnes’s Metroland (1980) and Geoff Dyer’s Paris Trance (1998). While each novel comments on historically distinct moments in English attitudes to European identity, their similarities suggest a shared desire to critique English insularity. Finally, the paper asks whether the portrait of Englishness which finally emerges is more ambivalent than it first appears, suggesting that its admonitory messages are tempered by elements of postcolonial melancholia and nostalgia.
Courtesy of our friends in the Centre of the Study of Democracy …
The Prose of the World:
Capitalism, Democracy and the Novel
Dr David Cunningham, University of Westminster
Tuesday November 6, 17:15-18:45 | Westminster Forum, 5th Floor, Wells Street
UPDATE: Video posted at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR5ktvgFqVc&feature=em-share_video_user
Great piece by Chris Daley in the new online journal Alluvium about nuclear criticism. Here’s the first paragraph:
In 1984, the journal Diacritics set out to define what it labelled as the developing academic terrain of ‘nuclear criticism’. The opening section of the journal entitled ‘Proposal for a Diacritics Colloquium on Nuclear Criticism’ established that ‘critical theory ought to be making a more important contribution to the public discussion of nuclear issues’ and proceeded to list a series of nuclear themes that required immediate consideration. Among these were an examination of the nuclear arms race and the ‘dialectic of mimetic rivalry’ it provoked, ‘the power of horror’ and most pertinently ‘the representation of nuclear war in the media as well as in the literary canon’. This last topic was all the more powerful for a mid-eighties audience as the early years of the decade had seen a re-emergence of nuclear anxieties that were reminiscent of the fears twenty years earlier during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and his subsequent verbal assaults on the ‘evil empire’ of the Soviet Union, energised the ferocious ideological divide between the two superpowers that had ebbed and flowed in intensity throughout the Cold War. Meanwhile, in both the United States and Britain a variety of cultural and media productions speculated on the consequences of such intense political rhetoric. While these texts were predominantly non-canonical and therefore often overlooked by the nuclear critics, they nonetheless question and evaluate the purpose of the nuclear referent in the political power struggle of the Cold War.
Read further at: http://www.alluvium-journal.org/2012/07/01/nuclear-criticism/
Narratives of Suburbia
Friday 15th June 2012, 9.15am – 5.15pm
Room 354, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London
Programme: Narratives of Suburbia Programme
The Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster is delighted to host the 17th Westminster Colloquium entitled ‘Narratives of Suburbia’ on Friday 15th June 2012. The colloquium aims to assess contemporary representations of suburbia in British and North American fiction, with a particular focus on the exponential growth of suburbia since the Second World War and the fictional offshoots it has produced. By exploring the work of Anglo-American authors, the objective is to identify thematic and stylistic areas of convergence and divergence.
John Beck (Newcastle)
Christine Berberich (Portsmouth)
Professor Neil Campbell (Derby)
Mark Clapson (Westminster)
Martyn Colebrook (Hull)
Martin Dines (Kingston )
Nick Hubble (Brunel)
Rupa Huq (Kingston)
Entrance is FREE but space is limited so please book your place in advance by contacting the organisers, Christopher Daley (email@example.com) and Aisling McKeown (A.Mckeown@westminster.ac.uk). Full programme to follow.
Wednesday 22 February at 3pm
2.05A School of Law, 4 Little Titchfield Street, London W1W 7UW
‘There is a war coming: the future regulation of general purpose computation’
Organised by our friends in The Centre for Law, Society and Popular Culture
ALL WELCOME. RSVP Danilo Mandic: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of Tor Teens/HarperCollins UK novels like FOR THE WIN and the bestselling LITTLE BROTHER. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. He is the author of Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future, (2008). Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London. See further, http://craphound.com/bio.php
A quick plug for the London Reading Club, a new blog for the book group attached to the MA Writing the City at the University of Westminster, which is run by our own Monica Germana. Check out posts that discuss London writings ranging from Virginia Woolf to Monica Ali here: http://thelondonreadingclub.wordpress.com/
Wednesday 23 November, 1.15pm – 2.30pm
Room 359, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster
Samuel Thomas (Durham University)
“The Gaucho Sells Out: Thomas Pynchon, Nation Building & Argentina”
Wednesday 16 November, 4.15pm – 5.45pm
Room 312, Wells Street, University of Westminster, London W1T
‘Pragmatic Implicature and the novel’
Ruth Schuldiner, University of Oxford
This paper will discuss the sustained use of implicature to communicate central, unambiguous elements of plot in fiction novels; specifically, it will look at instances in which a reader’s understanding of an implicitly communicated event is integral to their understanding of the remainder of the narrative. It is proposed that, in third-person narratives, a perceived context of fictionality is depended upon for the construction of some of these implicatures: many of them exploit the perceived omniscience of the narrator, and by extension the fictionality of the text. This conclusion feeds into a broader argument concerning the possible differences associated with reading fictional vs. nonfictional texts, or how an assumed context of either fictionality or nonfictionality affects readers’ interpretations of individual utterances and the coherence of narratives as a whole. When an author chooses to communicate central narrative information through implicature, the reader is faced with the important puzzle of why an omniscient persona would opt for an inarticulate mode of communication. It is this implicitly posed question that emphasizes the relevance of the implicatures to their context, dispersing the ambiguity of superficial ellipses. The paper discusses excerpts from M.E. Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret to evidence the argument.
Wednesday 9 November, 1.15pm – 2.30pm
Room 359, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster
Caroline Edwards (University of Lincoln)
‘Fictions of the Not Yet’
As the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close, there is a growing critical awareness of the current fascination with alternative and future worlds in contemporary British fiction. In addition to the continuing popularity of – and growing scholarly interest in – speculative and genre works, an emerging body of “literary” fictions is revealing a wide-ranging preoccupation with narratives of apocalypse, transmigration and haunting. Writers like David Mitchell, Jeanette Winterson, Jim Crace, John Burnside, Marina Warner, Maggie Gee, Jon McGregor and Sam Taylor are thus shifting the parameters of realist literary fiction and its generic borrowings, and in the process articulating a shared concern with the question of temporality. We need to develop a new strategy of reading such fictions in order to examine the formal innovations executed by these visions of temporal alterity and futurity. This paper will outline a refunctioning of Ernst Bloch’s category of the “Not Yet” (Noch Nicht) in order to provide a methodological framework that can draw out the distinctly utopian implications that are prevalent in the contemporary British novel. This refunctioning not only reconsiders the relationship between philosophical discourse and narrative imaginaries, but also helps us outline the distinctive structural, thematic and stylistic characteristics shaping an emerging caucus of fictions.
Michael Nath’s first novel La Rochelle was shortlisted for the 2011 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. At the award ceremony held at the Edinburgh Book Festival, chair of the judges Lee Spinks outlined his appreciation book in conversation with Sally Magnusson.
We are happy to announce the most excellent news that Michael Nath’s debut novel La Rochelle, for which we helped to organise the official launch in 2009, is one of four books shortlisted for the prestigious the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. The shortlist was announced at Dover House, London. The winners will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
The James Tait Black Award, worth £10,000 to the winner, is awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, and were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books. Past winners of the awards include the likes of DH Lawrence, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, Angela Carter, Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis, AS Byatt, William Golding and Ian McEwan.
Thursday 20 January 2011, 6-8pm
Main Foyer, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster, London W1B 2UW
One we should have posted earlier, but if anyone is around this evening you are warmly invited to join Dame Antonia Byatt to celebrate the publication of a new monograph on A S Byatt’s work by Westminster’s Alexa Alfer with Amy Edwards de Campos.
This stimulating and comprehensive study of A S Byatt’s work spans virtually her entire career and offers insightful readings of all of Byatt’s works of fiction up to and including her Man-Booker-shortlisted novel The Children’s Book. The authors combine a clear and accessible overview of Byatt’s oeuvre to date with close critical analysis of all her major works. Uniquely, the book also points beyond the immediate context of Byatt’s fiction by considering her critical writings and journalism alongside her novels and short stories.
To book your place, please visit westminster.ac.uk/criticalstorytelling
Wednesday 1 December 2010, 4.15-5.45pm
Room 306, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW
Siobhan Chapman (University of Liverpool)
‘Implicated Meanings in Dorothy L. Sayers’s Gaudy Night: a Neo-Gricean Approach’
David Cunningham’s essay ‘Capitalist Epics: Abstraction, Totality and the Theory of the Novel’, published in the September issue of Radical Philosophy, is now available online as a pdf on the journal’s Recent Highlights page of their website.
Download it here.
Update: David will be speaking on Philosophy, Capitalism and the Novel at the University of Dundee on Wednesday 24 November (4-6pm). He’ll also be in Glasgow on Thursday 25 giving a talk on the concept of modernism.
Wednesday 10th November, 1.15-2.30pm
Room 106, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, W1T 3UW
Joanne Murray (Birkbeck College, University of London)
“JG Ballard and New Brutalism”
Further details on the English Literature and Culture seminar series at Westminster here.
Wednesday 27th October, 1.15-2.30pm
Room 106, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, W1T 3UW
Nick Hubble (Brunel University)
‘Naomi Mitchison: From Intermodernism to Science Fiction (via Mass-Observation)’
From her 1920s novels, influenced by Lawrence but aimed at the audience of Wells, to her subsequent deployment of modernist techniques for political ends, Naomi Mitchison may be considered a key intermodern writer. Her relentless pursuit of the ‘just society’, free from gender-based and sexual repression, made her a controversial figure even in that controversial decade. And her close literary associates of that decade – including Auden, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Stevie Smith, Wyndham Lewis and Walter Greenwood – suggest different ways of thinking about literary networks and cultural history in general. She was also a friend and supporter of Tom Harrison and Mass-Observation, for whom she kept a wartime diary. Nick Hubble’s paper analyses this intermodern work and investigates how it relates to Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962), a forerunner of the 1970s feminist utopian science fiction of writers such as Ursula Le Guin, Marge Piercy and Joanna Russ.
Rescheduled from last semester. Further details here.
Videos from the Royal Academy event Ballardian Architecture in May, including David Cunningham’s talk on Pop art, Brutalism and Ballard’s prose of space, have now been posted online.
You can watch the videos here.
“Professor Josipovici argues that the English novel has become caged in recent decades, and that its famous practitioners have been putting on a tame show, for all their swaggering. This has annoyed the literary reviewers and metropolitan columnists, who’re in the habit of making a fuss of certain big names, and don’t appreciate being told they’ve been cheering cows; but it happens to be true. The ranking writers and the prize-winners make it solely because the idea has caught on that ‘Modernism is dead’; the consequence of this is that contemporary writing can prowl about quite safely in its cage, or not prowl at all but just peep through its fingers.”
Read more here. And while you’re at it, check out David Cunningham’s review of Nicolas Bourriaud’s Altermodern exhibition in a recent issue of the Journal of Visual Culture. The defence of modernism begins here!
The Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture
University of Westminster Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies
32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW. United Kingdom.