CFP: [Postcolonial] Celebrating Commonwealth Literature: 40 Years of the Booker Prize

full name / name of organization: 
Raji Singh Soni
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Celebrating Commonwealth Literature: 40 Years of the Booker Prize

Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) 40th Anniversary Convention
February 26-March 1, 2009
Boston, MA

Created to recognize the best English-language writing, the Booker Prize
<> has promoted the wider reading and study of
Commonwealth fiction, from well-established authors (e.g. Salman Rushdie
and his pivotal “Booker of Bookers,” Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, A.S.
Byatt, Nadine Gordimer, JM Coetzee) to first-time novelists and
previously lesser-known writers. However, as any consideration of Graham
Huggan’s _The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins_ (London:
Routledge, 2001) is bound to show, the Booker Prize has accrued as much
criticism and scrutiny as it has celebration, particularly for the
history of nineteenth-century colonialism that marks its patronage (i.e.
the Booker McConnell company) and attendant critiques of
the “multicultural consciousness” that the prize has sought to engender
by internationalizing fiction through the adjudicatory rubric of a
literary Commonwealth.

After 40 years of Booker Prize long-lists, short-lists, and the culture
of literary celebrity to which the prize itself gives rise, how should we
discuss particular Booker novels along the lines of cultural and/or
political representation, historical revisionism (or
perhaps ‘historiographic metafiction’), globalization, trans-nationalism
and (inter)nationalism, marketing, and post/colonial contexts? How should
we discuss the nexus of prize culture, aesthetic (and therein necessarily
political) judgment, and the complexities involved in building
international readerships through the lenses of decolonization and the
cultural legacies of a Commonwealth order?

Papers for this NeMLA panel may focus on any of the novels that have
garnered a Booker, as well as any of the multiple works of fiction which
have been long-listed and short-listed during the prize’s 40-year
history. By critically addressing specific novels while questioning how
the development of a Commonwealth community and the expansion of
Anglophone literature have been imagined, this panel will explore the
dynamics at work in annual celebrations of Booker Prize fiction.

Please send abstracts of 350-500 words along with short bios to Raji
Singh Soni,, by September 15, 2008.

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Received on Fri Jul 04 2008 - 13:34:41 EDT