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 and We also welcome applications for full panels of 3-4 papers. We will soon update information on, 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 ( 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.

The theme of the 15th annual conference of the European Society for Textual Studies, held in November in Prague, was “Editor as Author; Author as Editor”. Since my research focuses on the work of literary editors, the conference featured high on my wish list for 2018 – and with the help of an ECR Bursary from the IAAS, I was fortunate enough to get there.

The main purpose of my visit was to talk about (or, as I like to say in funding applications, “disseminate”) my research. My book The Art of Editing: Raymond Carver and David Foster Wallace (forthcoming from Bloomsbury! available to preorder now!) examines two case studies of notable editorial interventions, and my presentation focused on the first of these. In Gordon Lish’s infamously severe revisions of Carver’s stories, the editor’s unusually heavy hand makes him, in the opinion of some critics, a “co-author” of sorts. I presented some examples of these edits, ultimately arguing that Lish’s role remains an editorial one; the phrase “co-author”, I believe, suggests a kind of collaborative dynamic and vaguely distributed agency that doesn’t accurately reflect the conflict visible in the manuscripts.

The conference offered a wonderful opportunity to speak with scholars with a similar interest in editorial theory and practice. My co-panellists were Elisa Veit, who discussed the blurring of authorial and editorial lines in editions of work by the Finnish/Swedish novelist Henry Parland, and Hans Walter Gabler (a pretty noted editor himself, most famously of the 1984 edition of Ulysses), who spoke about the theoretical problems involved in fulfilling an author’s intention in the Anglo-American tradition of “eclectic editing.” I saw a range of presentations that probed the border of author- and editorship. These included: Wim van Mierlo, who spoke about the limits of authorship, considering how collaborations like those of Eliot and Pound challenge assumptions of solitary creation; Susan Greenberg, whose new book A Poetics of Editing brings a much-needed overview of the practice of editing across multiple domains and calls for the establishment of “Editing Studies” as a distinct field; and Dariusz Pachocki, who spoke about censorship in Polish magazines of the post-war era such as Kultura and detailed how their editors wielded a degree of gatekeeping influence comparable to that of US editors.

One of the attractions of the conference, in fact, had been the range of papers focusing on American writers and editors. Bruce I. Weiner, for example, discussed Edgar Allan Poe’s editorial role at Graham’s magazine and Poe’s conceptualisation of editorial work in his “Chapter on Autography.” Gabler’s presentation explored the decisions made in editions of Stephen Crane’s novels; elsewhere, Jude Davies analysed editorial decisions made in editions of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, examining the development of the editorial dynamic in the era of the “social text.” American literary history is full of examples of contested texts, editorial skirmishes, and posthumous editions, and I was able to learn about several case studies that I had been only dimly aware of. Overall, the visit was an enjoyable and generative one, enabling the kind of interdisciplinary thought and conversation only possible in a conference setting.

Finally, it seems appropriate to add a word on the nature of (and necessity for) this award. The IAAS’s Early Career Bursary is a recent creation, devised to address the grim realities of contemporary post-PhD employment. Conditions for early career researchers are, to borrow a phrase favoured by the 45th US president, “not good”. Today’s early career researcher (or, if you like, “precarious researcher”; I’ve seen the former phrase criticised for its ageist connotations and the way it risks avoiding/normalising the enormous problem of casualisation in universities) is required to absorb many of the institutional hassles facing all 21st-century academics – the bureaucracy, the out-of-hours unpaid administrative work, the astonishingly intricate funding applications – often while maintaining the teeth-grinding financial anxiety of a PhD student and enjoying an even lower level of job security than a current White House staff member.

These days the institutional structures providing a pathway from PhD to full employment seem creaky to say to the least, and actively hostile to anyone without a good helping of luck and privilege. Until these structures are reformed, bursaries such as this one will be not only helpful but very necessary in supporting research by academics without permanent employment. I thank the IAAS Prizes Subcommittee for their generosity.


Tim is currently a Lecturer/Assistant Professor in American Literature at the School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin, Ireland. His new book, The Art of Editing, is available to preorder from Bloomsbury now.

The Prizes Subcommittee of the IAAS is delighted to announce the winner of this year’s WTM Riches Essay Prize. Eva Isherwood-Wallace, an MA student at Queen’s University Belfast has been selected as the overall winner for her essay entitled “‘Seeming Strangeness’: Mina Loy’s Poetics of Disruption and Julia Kristeva’s Semiotic/Symbolic Model.”

The Subcommittee also awarded Honourable Mentions to Robyn Gilmour (English, Drama, and Film, UCD) for her essay “Exploring Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man as a Post-Modern Take on the Coming of Age Genre,” and to Jasmine McCrory (Literary Studies, Queen’s University Belfast) for her essay “’I Remembered the Cry of the Peacocks’: Buddha-Dharma, Meditation and Enlightenment in Wallace Stevens’s Harmonium.”

The WTM Riches Essay Prize is awarded annually for outstanding work in any area of American Studies by undergraduate students and students in the first year of postgraduate studies. More information, including past winners, can be found here.

Applications are invited for a full-time permanent lectureship in English. The appointee will teach and research in the area of English-language fiction and/or poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They will also be expected to contribute to our teaching needs in the area of North American literature, and to one or more of the following strategic development areas: gender/queer studies; global literature; ecocriticism; book history; publishing studies. Applicants must hold a PhD in a relevant field and have experience in third-level teaching.


English at NUI Galway


The discipline of English is the largest in the School of Humanities, with over 1000 undergraduates, 60 MA students and 30 PhD students. We teach a broad undergraduate curriculum, touching on all major historical periods and genres, and we run five taught MA programmes: the MA in English, MA in Literature and Publishing, MA in Culture and Colonialism, MA in Writing, and MA in Digital Cultures. Our staff also contribute to other programmes in Journalism, Creative Writing, Theatre Studies, Irish Studies and Digital Arts and Technology. Staff in English are closely associated with NUI Galway’s Moore Institute for Research in Humanities and Social Studies. There is a highly active research culture in English, and our staff have won major funding awards from the European Research Council, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme and the Irish Research Council. For the past two years we have been ranked among the top 150 English departments in the QS World University rankings.


For this post we are seeking a colleague who will contribute to developing our curriculum in twentieth- and twenty-first century literature, and assist us in developing new programmes of teaching and research. Applicants are invited to demonstrate how they would enhance our existing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and how they would develop an innovative research agenda within English and across other disciplines if appropriate.


For informal enquiries, please contact Prof. Sean Ryder, Chair of English

Additional information on English at NUI Galway is available at:




Below the Bar:

€37,602 – €58,360 p.a. (applicable to new entrants effective from January, 2011)

Above the Bar:

€63,690 to €82,245 p.a.


(This appointment will be made on either the “Lecturer Below the Bar” or “Lecturer Above the Bar” scales in line with current Government pay policy)


(For pre 1995 public sector entrants in Ireland, the D class Salary rates will apply)


Closing date for receipt of applications is 17:00 (GMT) on Friday 12th October 2018.  It will not be possible to consider applications received after the closing date.


Garda vetting may apply.


Appointments will be conditional on work authorisation validation.

Further details are available at


For more information and Application Form please see website: Applications should be submitted online.


Please note that appointment to posts advertised will be dependent upon University approval, together with the terms of the Employment Control Framework for the higher education sector.


National University of Ireland Galway is an equal opportunities employer.

*Applicants will be considered at both levels unless they specifically state that they wish to be considered for appointment at one level only.

Are you looking for a way to become more involved in the IAAS but aren’t sure how?

We are looking for volunteers to act as web interns. This will involve posting regular updates on the website such as job openings, calls for papers, and events news. A basic knowledge of WordPress is desirable but training will be provided if necessary. Ideally, these volunteers will be postgraduate members of the Association and will be able to commit to the position for 12 months. If this sounds like you, or if you would like more information, contact the Secretary on