Twenty-First Century British Fiction
A Symposium
Saturday 12th May 2012, Birkbeck, University of London

Keynote address: Professor Robert Eaglestone (Royal Holloway)

Twenty-First Century British Fiction seeks to consider and promote current perspectives on the fiction of British writers in the twenty-first century.  Post-2000 writing has proved itself as arguably wide-ranging and innovative as its predecessors.  The post-millennial decade witnessed a new literary generation emerge and establish itself with familiar and less familiar names such as Monica Ali, Nicola Barker, Steven Hall, Philip Hensher, Tom McCarthy, Patrick Neate and Zadie Smith.  Concurrently, there have been increasingly sophisticated engagements with genre fiction from Susanna Clarke, David Mitchell, David Peace, China Miéville and Sarah Waters.  Meanwhile, already established, now canonical, writers such as such as Amis, Barnes, Byatt, Hollinghurst, Rushdie and Winterson continue to publish work that commands attention.  This same period has witnessed the growth of new models of literary production, evolving cultural contexts, and an increasingly transnational planet.

Many of the aforementioned writers have featured on Granta’s decennial lists of Best Young British Novelists; with the next list due in 2013, it seems only fitting and appropriate to survey the twenty-first century’s first decade of British Fiction.  We invite submissions for 20 minute presentations on these and other British writers.  Papers on individual authors and single works are welcome, as are essays on broader trends that explore the cultural, historical and stylistic contexts that have produced twenty-first century British fiction.  These might include, but are not restricted to, the following topics and themes:

Authenticity – Writing after theory – The waning of postmodernism – Science and medicine in literature – Transnational belonging – Postimperial/global imaginaries – Genre/post-genre fictions  – Post-devolution writing – Narrative multiplicity – Provincial/urban voices – Fictions of suburbia – Hysterical Realism – The post-9/11 novel in Britain – Ecocriticism –  Digital media and the novel – Graphic fictions – Adaptations and appropriations – Class, power and marginality – Literary inheritances – Fictions of alterity – Children’s/young adult literature – Gender, sexuality and feminism – Post-millenial utopian/dystopian spaces…

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words, with brief details of biography and affiliation, to Bianca Leggett and Tony Venezia no later than 15th March 2012.  We also welcome proposals for themed panels of three speakers.  We are currently in negotiations with an academic publisher interested in publishing a volume based on the proceedings of the symposium. The symposium is sponsored by the School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London.


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