Reading Risk in Contemporary U.S. Fiction and Culture

A Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Colloquium

University of Birmingham, 02/10/2015.

Five days after 9/11, Republican Party activist James Pinkerton proclaimed that ‘the World Trade Center has been destroyed, but this has also been a crushing defeat for irony, cynicism and hipness. Here in New York, the city that gave the world Seinfeld, Sex and the City and Studio 54, the victors now are sincerity, patriotism and earnestness’ (Newsday, September 16th, 2001). Has Pinkerton’s claim come true? If traditional values like sincerity, patriotism and earnestness are ascendant, what space is left for texts that risk to contest or query the status-quo? Should we abhor risk as the cause of the financial crash, or pine for risky artistic practices that might instigate change? Do we need the texts we study to be risky?

We are pleased to announce that on 02/10/2015 the University of Birmingham will invite postgraduates and early career researchers to discuss these and other issues regarding risk, in whatever permutation, in contemporary U.S. fiction and culture. Speakers are invited to give 15 minute papers on topics including, but by no means limited to, the following –

•       Experimentation in contemporary fiction and culture
•       The role of risk in publishing and media development
•       Financial/economic risk in contemporary literature and culture
•       Risk taking, risk management, and neoliberalism
•       Eco-criticism and environmental risk
•       The body, epidemics, health and medicine
•       Humanities research and risky/risk-averse methodologies
•       Being ‘post-’ (theory, postmodernism, ideology, etc.)
•       Precarity and ‘at risk’ populations
•       Technology, surveillance, and pre-emption.

This event will bring together postgraduates and early career researchers working on contemporary U.S. fiction and culture to discuss their work in a welcoming and informal setting. There are no registration fees. Please send a 200 word abstract, along with a 50 word biographical note, to by August 20th. For more general queries or clarification, please contact Alexander Moran and Edward Jackson at the same email address.