The State of Fiction: Don DeLillo in the 21st Century
10 June 2015, University of Sussex
Writing also means trying to advance the art. Fiction hasn’t quite been filled in or done in or worked out. We make our small leaps.
Don DeLillo, 1982
This one-day conference will address the state of fiction in contemporary American culture by focusing on the extensive oeuvre of Don DeLillo, from the 1970s to the present day and beyond. DeLillo commented shortly after the publication of The Names that fiction had not yet been ‘filled in,’ ‘done in,’ or ‘worked out.’ How do we read this thirty years later, in the shadow of not only DeLillo’s major works but also the events that have characterised our move into the Twenty-First Century? How have DeLillo’s small leaps between the New York of Players (1977) and the New York of Falling Man (2007) ‘filled in’ fiction? Has DeLillo’s pervasive influence across contemporary American culture ‘done in’ postmodernism? Is the novel in the Twenty First Century already ‘worked out’?
Proposals for presentations of 20 minutes or for pre-formed panels of 1 hour are invited; topics, which should be rooted in the work of DeLillo, may include but are not limited to:
• The novelist in contemporary (American) culture: canonicity, influence, consumption
• New contexts: 9/11, Occupy, neoliberalism, globalisation
• ‘The Power of History’: the state and the shadow-state, popular culture, paranoia
• New realisms: crisis, terror, childhood, metafiction
• Language: the individual and the crowd, the everyday and the event, ekphrasis
• New forms: genres, adaptations, translations, multilingualism
• The ends of postmodernism? Forebears, afterlives, lateness
• Environment, global warming and waste
Submissions that are interdisciplinary in nature are particularly encouraged. Abstracts of up to 250 words in length and a brief biographical note should be submitted at delilloconference2015.wordpress.com by 19 March 2015.