Diversity in/and/or the Arts
FINAL CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Diversity, which in the US and UK had initially been associated with and largely confined to the areas of employment and college admissions, has recently taken center stage, most dramatically with the seating of the US House of Representatives on 2 January and the Golden Globes film awards 4 days later. Despite the gains, diversity remains a contentious issue even in an area associated with progressivism: the arts in general (the Golden Globes notwithstanding) and literature in particular. Case in point: Lionel Shriver’s article in the 9 June 2018 issue of The Spectator in which the US novelist attacked Penguin Random House UK’s newly announced diversity statement. A policy many would find laudable Shriver found reprehensible, as her opening salvo makes clear: ‘I’d been suffering under the misguided illusion that the purpose of mainstream publishers like Penguin Random House was to sell and promote fine writing.’ That her defense of art as existing apart from the politics of diversity coincided with the attacks on diversity exemplified by Brexit and Trump’s border wall makes it all the more important to examine the basis of her critique, especially in light of the support her views received from the far-right Breitbart News, and the various ways in which diversity challenges Shriver’s assumptions about ‘Art’ and her defense of the literary novel’s autonomy and literary ‘talent’ as self-evident.
Submit proposals via the NEMLA Conference webpage: http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention/callforpapers.html