CFP: [20th] Moral Turn in Contemporary British Fiction (9/15/07; NEMLA 4/10/08-4/13/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Jeff Roessner
contact email: 
jroessner@mercyhurst.edu

        The question of morality has been a particularly vexed one in
contemporary fiction. If there is a moral stance taken, it would seem to
be in what Linda Hutcheon described as the politics of postmodernism –
the celebration of diversity, heterogeneity, and (to borrow Salman
Rushdie’s term) mongrelization. In short, recalling voices from the
margins of traditional historical and political narratives and
celebrating polyphonic expressions of identity and culture have been seen
as goods in and of themselves. But an increasing number of novelists –
including Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, J.M. Coetzee, and others – have turned
their attention to pressing moral questions that do not easily reward
such deconstructive readings. Consequently, this panel will explore
contemporary British novelists who investigate what happens to ethics
once hegemonic narratives have been dismantled, or who seek to imagine a
post-deconstructive ethics. Questions to consider might include the
following: How does contemporary fiction push us to think beyond
traditional ethical categories? To what extent do these novels formulate
moral imperatives, and how do they reconcile such imperatives with an
emphasis on contingency and the perspectival nature of truth? How does
recent fiction interrogate the moral shortcomings of modern or early
postmodern literature? Does the shift toward ethical questions signify a
new stage in postmodern culture, or are we witnessing a transition to a
new and distinct cultural period?

By September 15, 2007 please send a 300-500 word abstract of your
proposed paper (in the body of your email) to: jroessner_at_mercyhurst.edu.

Note: next year’s NEMLA Conference will be held in Buffalo, NY from April
10-13, 2008.

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Received on Thu Aug 02 2007 - 10:40:26 EDT

cfp categories: 
twentieth_century_and_beyond