Call for Papers

Alternative Realities: New Challenges for American Literature in the Era of Trump

Friday 13 – Saturday 14 December 2019

Clinton Institute for American Studies, University College Dublin

Watching the televised debates between then-presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1959, and reflecting on the growth of televisual media and the gradual transformation of politics into spectacle, Philip Roth observed that “the American writer” was now challenged “to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality,” at a time when the actuality was “constantly outdoing our talents”. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016 it feels like, once again, reality is outpacing fiction, with the Trump presidency inaugurating a new stage in the process of aestheticization in which politics and entertainment converge as never before. This paradigm shift—which is not exclusive to the US, but that is especially acute given Trump’s celebrity status and his leadership style—has been sharpened by the disruptive impact of new and social media in the public sphere, bringing to the fore concomitant concerns about the derealization of political and cultural discourses. In a context where the relationship between fact and fiction has been deeply destabilized, writers are challenged to make sense of this new “American reality” that is troubling core assumptions about the purpose and value of literature.

This conference seeks to bring together scholars in literary studies and adjacent fields to consider literary responses to the new American realities.

We are delighted to confirm as Keynote Speakers:

Aleksandar Hemon

novelist, author of Nowhere Man and The Lazarus Project

Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University

 

Karen E. Bender

novelist and short-story writer, author of RefundThe New Order, Like Normal People

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University

 

Chris Beckett

novelist and short-story writer, author of America City and Dark Eden

Arthur C. Clark Award winner 2013

 Topics may include (but are not confined to):

  • Narrative strategies and innovations in the literary representation of American reality
  • Intersections between fiction and non-fiction
  • Fictional subversions of the “real”
  • The valence of realism in contemporary American literature
  • Literary criticism in the age of “Fake News”
  • Politics of representation, dissent, and resistance
  • Genre and gender in contemporary American fiction
  • Diasporic, minority, immigrant, and Native American literatures
  • Right-wing/conservative American literature
  • The resurgence of American protest poetry
  • The currency of dystopian and counterfactual literature
  • The role of irony, satire and parody in the era of Trump
  • The demands of writing the contemporary
  • Reading publics and the role of fiction
  • Shifting economies in the publishing industry
  • The currency of prior literature for making sense of the present

Please submit the paper title, an abstract of 300 words, a short bio and contact details to dolores.resano@ucd.ie and catherine.carey@ucd.ie. We also welcome applications for full panels of 3-4 papers. We will soon update information on www.ucdclinton.ie/, but don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

The deadline for paper and panel proposals is 1st September 2019. (Note – we will make decisions on paper/panel submissions on a rolling basis to help facilitate participant’s planning for conference attendance).

The IAAS is delighted to announce that Dr Aoileann Ní Éigeartaigh will deliver this year’s W.A. Emmerson Lecture.

You can listen to a recording of Dr Ní Éigeartaigh’s talk here:

 

Dr Ní Éigeartaigh is a Lecturer in Literature and Cultural Studies in the School of Business and Humanities at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Her research interests include American Literature, Irish Literature, and Cultural Studies. Aoileann is also a former chair of the Irish Association for American Studies.

Her lecture, “Liminal Spaces and Contested Histories in the novels of Juan Rulfo and George Saunders”, will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday, March 28th in room L4 in the Department of Business & Humanities, Dundalk Institute of Technology. Tea and coffee will be available from 4pm.

The W.A. Emmerson Lecture is named in honour of, Tony Emmerson, one of the IAAS’s founding members and is a highlight of the association’s events. Information on previous lectures can be found here. The lecture is free and all are welcome to attend.

Aoileann NíÉigeartaigh (centre) with IAAS Chair David Coughlan

 

 

The Annual General Meeting of the IAAS will take place during this year’s Annual Conference at University College Cork (April 12 & 13). All members are encouraged to attend if possible as your input helps to shape the future direction of the Association. The minutes from previous AGMs are available here. A number of positions on the Executive Committee will be open for election at this year’s AGM.

We are particularly keen to encourage nominations from members who have not yet had an opportunity to serve on the committee. The IAAS is run entirely on a volunteer basis, and it can only continue through the involvement of its members. We would also encourage members from disciplines that are currently under-represented on the committee (History, Politics, Film, Social Studies, Art etc) to consider putting themselves forward. The Association has seen remarkable growth in recent years. New voices and points of view need to be heard on the committee so that the Association can continue to be relevant for its members. If you are interested in standing for one of the vacant positions, please feel free to contact any members of the current committee for more information.

Positions open for election at this year’s AGM are as follows:

  • Chair
  • Secretary
  • Postgraduate & Early Career representatives
  • President
Other positions may become vacant as a result of these elections. If you are interested in serving on the Committee you must be a fully paid-up member of the Association before submitting your nomination. If you would like to nominate another member of the Association for any of these positions, you must have their written permission to do so.

Nominations should be emailed to the Secretary (dalyj5@tcd.ie) in advance of the AGM.

Should more than one nomination be received for any position, an election will be held during the AGM. Only members present at the AGM will be able to vote.