A one-day symposium on Marilynne Robinson

Nottingham Trent University, 10 June 2016

Featuring a roundtable discussion with Prof. Sarah Churchwell (University of London) and Prof. Richard H. King (University of Nottingham)

Since the publication of her debut novel, Housekeeping, in 1980, critics have celebrated Marilynne Robinson as a singular author of American fiction. A prolific essayist, teacher, and public speaker, she is best known for a trilogy of historical novels set in the small town of Gilead, Iowa: the Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead (2004) and its “partner” novels, Home (2008) and Lila (2014).

This one-day symposium seeks to chart the development of critical opinion on Robinson and welcomes papers on any aspect of her fiction and collected/uncollected nonfiction. We are particularly interested in submissions that address the following areas:

  • Regionalism and the role of the “Middle West” in Robinson’s writing
  • Portrayals of small town America in the work of Robinson and her
  • Robinson’s use of domestic spaces and her portrayal of the American family
  • The ecocritical concerns of Robinson’s fiction/nonfiction
  • The importance of time and temporality in the Gilead novels
  • Robinson’s influence on contemporary writers via her role in the Iowa
    Writers’ Workshop
  • Review culture, prize giving, and the production of “literary” fiction
  • Robinson’s stated influences, including Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville,
    Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and the Bible
  • Robinson’s engagement with history, particularly the ongoing relevance of the American Civil War and Civil Rights movement to contemporary politics
  • The role of Congregationalist and/or Calvinist traditions in Robinson’s
  • Robinson and US intellectual history, particularly the forgotten intellectual traditions of the Midwest
  • Readings of gender and/or sexuality in Robinson’s fiction
  • The Gilead novels and their relationship with genre, including popular
    religious fictions, romances, westerns, or historical novels
  • Robinson’s international reputation

Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words to robinsonsymposium@gmail.com no later than Monday 18 January 2016.

Speakers will be notified by 19 February 2016.

Regular updates can be found on the symposium website.