CFP: Novels of Thornton Wilder (1/10/07; ALA, 5/24/07-5/27/07)

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Call for Papers, 2007
Thornton Wilder Society
At the 18th Annual American Literature Association Conference
Boston, MA, May 24-27, 2007

Novels of Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder's position in American letters owes more to his
experiments in dramatic form than to his fiction. Yet some of his novels
were successful critically or commercially or both. For example, Wilder's
second novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," won the Pulitzer Prize, was an
international bestseller, and consistently appears on rankings of the best
novels of the 20th century. His penultimate novel, "The Eighth Day," won
the National Book Award.

Harper's reissue of all seven of Wilder's novels, each with researched
critical Afterwords by Tappan Wilder, and insightful
Introductions by leading contemporary authors, opens up new publication
opportunities not only for Wilder scholars, but also for studies of the
20th-century American novel, the modernist novel, the novel genre itself,
and other approaches.

The Thornton Wilder Society is calling for proposals on any aspect of
Wilder's novels for a special session at the 2007 ALA conference in
Boston. Proposals may cover individual novels or more than one novel, or
may compare Wilder's novels to those by other writers, whether
contemporaneous of or prior to Wilder. We will also consider proposals
comparing Wilder's novels to his plays. Below are a list of the novels
and some approaches proposals might take:

The Cabala (1926)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927)
The Woman of Andros (1930)
Heaven's My Destination (1935)
The Ides of March (1948)
The Eighth Day (1967)
Theophilus North (1973)

American Studies: Although only 3 of the novels are set in America
(Heaven's My Destination, The Eighth Day, Theophilus North), the other
four also manifest themes and aesthetics pertaining to American literary
and cultural issues.

The Modernist Novel: While Faulkner is most famous for the nonlinear,
episodic, multiple protagonists novel structure (e.g., The Sound and the
Fury, As I Lay Dying), Wilder's first two novels (The Cabala and The
Bridge of San Luis Rey), published before Faulkner's works, also employ
that modernist form.

The Novel Genre: Most readers of Wilder's novels note the versatility in
subject matter, narrative form, and prose style. Indeed, the seven novels
might be studied as a survey of novel sub-genres, perhaps classified as
fictional memoir, parable, allegorical, picaresque, epistolary, epic,
autobiographical. Or perhaps they are unified thematically, structurally,
or stylistically.

Cross-genre: Even a casual reading of Wilder's major novels and plays
reveals that his plays employ novelistic techniques and certain of his
novels or sections of them read like plays. One can also detect
philosophical continuities between Wilder's drama and fiction.

We encourage graduate students as well as developing and established
scholars to submit 500-word proposals by January 15, 2007 to Lincoln
Konkle preferably via e-mail ( or via snail-mail:

Lincoln Konkle, Executive Director
The Thornton Wilder Society
The College of New Jersey
P.O. Box 7718
Ewing, NJ 0718

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Received on Sat Nov 25 2006 - 20:53:52 EST