Everything & More: Theorizing the Encyclopedic Novel... MLA 2012 Seattle

full name / name of organization: 
Brendan Beirne, New York University Dept. of English & American Literature
contact email: 

This panel seeks to consolidate and refine our understanding of the encyclopedic novel as a distinct (sub)genre within the broader field of novel studies / narratology.

What conventions mark texts as encyclopedic, and how have these conventions developed over time? How does a text's encyclopedism influence its reception by literary critics and narrative theorists? And how does the increasing ubiquity and accessibility of information in our culture effect the way we interpret 'data-saturated' novels of the past and present? These and other questions will inform our discussion.

Participants may focus on texts from any period or national literature, and are encouraged to consider works that have not already been canonized as one of the usual encyclopedic suspects (e.g. Moby-Dick, Gravity's Rainbow, etc.). We hope to also include discussion of non-fiction works such as The Diary of Samuel Pepys, The Anatomy of Melancholy by Burton, and Imperial by William T. Vollmann.

Ideally, papers would situate themselves in relation to contemporary theorizations / discussions of the encyclopedic novel (examples include Kevin Attell [2004], Antonio Barrenechea [2005], Leo Bersani [1988, 1989], Wilfredo H. Corral [2001, Edward Mendelson [1976], Jed Rasula [1999], et al).



Miguel de Cervantes
Laurence Sterne
Samuel Pepys
Don DeLillo
John Barth
Thomas Pynchon
Leslie Marmon Silko
David Foster Wallace
Gustave Flaubert
James Joyce
Joris-Karl Huysmans
Richard Powers
Ralph Ellison
Joseph McElroy
William T. Vollmann
Evan Dara
William Gaddis
Mark Z. Danielewski
Herman Melville
Robert Musil
Thomas Mann
Julio Cortázar
Roberto Bolaño
Annie Proulx
Karen Tei Yamashita