[UPDATE] EXTENSION Edward Upward -- Essay Collection

full name / name of organization: 
Benjamin Kohlmann, University of Oxford

***NOTE: The deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended until 8 February 2010.***

Spanning nearly eight decades, the work of Edward Upward (b.1903, d. February 2009) is without parallel in English letters. Upward's influence on the literature of the 'Auden generation' (from his quasi-Surrealist Mortmere fantasies to his political stories of the thirties) was outstanding; his life-long commitment to the Communist cause made him the moral authority for left-wing writers from the 1930s onwards. At the same time, Upward's own writings have sometimes been eclipsed by the works of the authors he influenced – most notably W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.

Upward continued to produce significant writing after World War II. His three-volume autobiography The Spiral Ascent (publ. between 1962 and 1977) stands as one of the great politico-literary confessionals of the second half of the century. Upward's later story collections – An Unmentionable Man (1994), The Scenic Railway (1997), The Coming Day (2000) and A Renegade in Springtime (2003) –signal new artistic departures, even while they continue to offer a characteristic combination of political spokesmanship and artistic disappointment, of fantasy, autobiography and realism. Upward's passionate, though characteristically fraught, "blending of twentieth-century styles" (Frank Kermode) remains unique in English literature. Following Upward's death, his works stand in need of revaluation.

The collection of essays will consider Upward's works from the 1920s until the 2000s, paying attention to the artistic, critical, political and socio-historical contexts of his oeuvre. The aim is an edited book publication or a special issue of a journal.

A wide spectrum of responses to Upward's oeuvre are invited. Topics of interest might include, but are by no means restricted to:

- Upward and (anti-)modernism; Upward as an avant-garde writer
- Upward's influence on other writers -- or vice versa -- from the 1920s to today (e.g. the impact of Blake, Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, Yeats; his influence on Auden, Isherwood)
- renegotiations of 'realism' (socialist and otherwise) in Upward's writing
- the tension between autobiography and fiction in Spiral Ascent and Upward's later stories
- Upward and genre (historical fiction; Utopian fiction; social problem novel; fantastic writing, e.g. in the Mortmere stories and Journey to the Border)
- Upward and questions of canonization
- insanity and hysteria in Upward's prose / Upward and psychoanalysis
- 'Englishness' in Upward's writings
- the Victorian legacy in Upward's works
- the 1930s as a continuing point of reference for Upward
- sexuality / gender issues in relation to Upward's writings
- religion / prophecy in Upward's oeuvre
- Upward and the English Left after 1945

Please send abstracts of around 500 words and a brief CV, plus any queries to Benjamin Kohlmann (benjamin.kohlmann@lincoln.ox.ac.uk) by February 8, 2010.

Completed essays will be 7-8,000 words. A tentative submission deadline for finished papers is November 30th 2010.