Charles Bukowski Conference 2024

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
University Bordeaux Montaigne

Call for Papers  

International conference

6-7 June 2024

Reading, Readings… and Loving Bukowski: an invitation to a subjective interpretation

Université Bordeaux Montaigne


In August 2020, Charles Bukowski would have celebrated his centennial. Because of the pandemic, the event took place on the social network Facebook. People around the world shared texts, videos, and memories. This event was the result of a joint effort from members of two Bukowski fandoms, active on and offline. This global online event, endorsed by friends or family of the author such as his daughter Marina Bukowski, reminds us of a frequent finding when researching the author: Bukowski is read and appreciated, and his poetry is shared by many, well beyond his state of California, where he has made his mark. 

Charles Bukowski is a prolific writer, and his work is polymorphous. He has more than sixty books published and or? reprinted, from novels such as Post Office (1971) and Women (1978) to volumes of poetry such as The Roominghouse Madrigals (1988) and Love is a Dog From Hell (1977) and collections of stories like Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969). 

Charles Bukowski received support to become a famous writer. This support arose from independent publishers and their little magazines. With the littles,he developed a network of fellow poets such as Steve Richmond, Douglas Blazek or editors like John Bryan (Open City) and Jon Webb (The Outsider). He engaged in correspondence with them in the 1960s. From the start of his publishing in underground magazines, Charles Bukowski refused to be labeled and did not want to be associated with any poetry group or movement. 

Yet, he influenced American poetry, and beyond. His work has been  published in the rest of the world, translated into many languages, starting with German and French from the early 1970s. Bukowski is celebrated in countries such as Greece, Brazil, and the Netherlands, where readings of his poems are frequently organized in cafés and bars.

His distribution expanded after the publication of his first works by Loujon Press and City Lights, then Black Sparrow Press. Lawrence Ferlinghetti introduced the writer through poetry readings in his San Francisco bookstore, City Lights. Bukowski continued these readings in universities’ lecture halls, theaters’ stages, and bars, to make ends meet. The image of the “dirty old man” was developed both in his texts, at these readings, and when Charles Bukowski talked to journalists. He transformed himself into the alcoholic poet his editors and journalists loved.

This image, which has never left him, has brought upon a form of intermediality in Bukowski’s work, since the latter and his image intermingle. Artists and readers use the texts as well as the author’s image, to draw inspiration from them, pay homage to them, or use them for commercial purposes. Bukowski is a poet represented in comic strips, musicals (Bukowskical!), amateur videos posted on the YouTube sharing platform, but also quoted or mentioned in TV series (Bojack Horseman, The Simpsons, or even Beverly Hills 90210) and represented in movies (Factotum, Barfly, among others).

For this conference, we would like to invite fans and readers of Charles Bukowski’s work, aficionados from all over the world, to discuss Charles Bukowski with the aim to understand why this author gathers so many people around the world, and in such a singular way. Why and how do people read and love Bukowski?

We aim to discuss the author’s reception chronologically, starting with his work before his worldwide success, the literary intermediaries and mediators who supported him, enabling his circulation. Then we would like to look at the author’s reception as he became known in various countries, and to explain the reasons for his continuing success, even after his death, 30 years ago. Finally, we will look at the “re-presentation” of the author after becoming a success, and the use of hisimage in a variety of media.

We hope to welcome testimonies and papers relating to the reception of Charles Bukowski from a variety of angles: his influence on various literary scenes, his publishing, the role of his translators, the choices made by his editors, but also and above all the way readers read Bukowski, why they appreciate the author’s texts and sometimes appropriate his work, to renew it in other media forms.



Proposals for papers, in English or French, consisting of a title, an abstract (max. 300 words), and a short bio note should be submitted to by October 15, 2023.

The participants will be notified of their proposal’s acceptance by November 2023.


Organizing committee 

Amélie Macaud and Sophie Rachmuhl


Scientific committee 

Irandokht Dina Moinzadeh (Professeur agrégée, Lycée Newton Enrea, Paris)
Peggy Pacini (MCF, CY Cergy Paris Université)
Anne-Marie Paquet-Deyris (Professeur des Universités, Université Paris Nanterre)
Alexandre Thiltges (Senior Lecturer, Baylor University, Texas)




Charles Bukowski's work and further reading: 


BURGOS, Martine, EVANS, Christophe, BUCH, Esteban. Sociabilité du Livre et Communautés de Lecteurs : Trois études sur la sociabilité du livre. Paris : Bibliothèque publique d'information, Centre George Pompidou, 1996.

CALONNE, David Stephen. Charles Bukowski. London: Reaktion Books, 2012.

CARPENTIERS, Nicolas. La lecture selon Barthes. Paris : L’Harmattan, 2000.

CHARTIER, Roger. Pratiques de la Lecture. Paris : Payot & Rivages, 1993 [1985].

CHARLSON, David. Charles Bukowski: Autobiographer, Gender Critic, Iconoclast. Bloomington, IN: Trafford, 2006.

CLEMENTS, Paul. Charles Bukowski, Outsider Literature, and the Beat Movement. London, UK, New York, NY: Routledge, 2013.

DEBRITTO, Abel. Charles Bukowski, King of the Underground: From Obscurity to Literary Icon. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

DOUGHERTY, Jay. « Charles Bukowski’s West German Connection ». Los Angeles, CA:  Los Angeles Times, December 1988, p.69.

FISH, Stanley. Quand lire c’est faire. Paris : Les Prairies Ordinaires, 2007. 

FOSTER, Sesshu. “Charles Bukowski and Wanda Coleman gave me a reason to keep writing”. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angelest Times, April 13, 2023.

ISER, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading: a theory of aesthetic response. London, UK: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980 [1978].

JAUSS, Hans Robert. Pour une esthétique de la réception. Paris : Gallimard, 2015 [1972].

JENKINS, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2006.

LEVERATTO, Jean-Marc, LEONTSINI, Mary. Internet et la Sociabilité Littéraire. Paris : Éditions de la Bibliothèque publique d’information, 2013 [2008]. 

LOCKLIN, Gerald. Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. Sudbury, MA: Water Row Press, 1996.

MACAUD, Amélie. La Construction de l’œuvre de Charles Bukowski : de l’art de la publication et du mélange des genres. Université Bordeaux Montaigne, 2021. 

MARLING, William. Gatekeepers: The Emergence of World Literature and the 1960s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

MADIGAN, Andrew J. « What Fame Is: Bukowski’s Exploration of Self ». Journal of American Studies, Cambridge University Press, December 1996, p.447-461.

MOINZADEH, Irandokht Dina. La voix incarnée : poétiques de la présence chez Charles Bukowski. Université Paris 10, 2017.

PIVANO, Fernanda. Charles Bukowski, Laughing With the Gods ; Interview by Fernanda Pivano. Okemos, MI : Sun Dog Press, 2000.

RACHMUHL, Sophie. A Higher Form of Politics:The Rise of a Poetry Scene, Los Angeles, 1950-1990. Otis Books/Seismicity Editions and Beyond Baroque Foundation. Los Angeles: 2015. 

RACHMUHL, Sophie. Innerscapes: 10 portraits of Los Angeles Poets, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, 2023 [2015].

SHELLIN, Chris. « Collecting Bukowski », dans RONI (dir.). [bju :k] – das Jarbuch der Charles-Bukowski-Gesellschaft 2014. Augsburg : Charles-Bukowski-Gesellschaft, Maro Verlag, 2014, p.50-57.

SMITH, Jules. Art, Survival, and So Forth: The Poetry of Charles Bukowski. London: Wrecking Ball Press, 2000.

SOUNES, Howard. Bukowski In Pictures. Edinburgh: Rebel Inc., 2000.

---. Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life. Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 2010 [1998].