Rushdie in the 21st Century (22 June 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Institute of English Studies, University of London (in association with the University of Keele and Royal Holloway, University of London)

Rushdie in the 21st Century: a Graduate Symposium

Saturday 22 June 2013


Institute of English Studies, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU

Keynote speakers: Dr Nick Bentley (Keele), Dr Stephen Morton (Southampton)

'[H]e will dream about this scene, understanding that his story is a sort of prologue: the tale of the moment when the first blackbird lands' – Salman Rushdie

In his recently published memoir, Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie makes a connection between the fatwa placed upon him in 1989 and the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001. Borrowing an image from the opening sequence of Hitchcock's The Birds, he suggests that that the conflict with Islamist extremism that characterises discourse around the current 'war on terror' first made itself felt in the West during the Satanic Verses affair. More than a decade on from 9/11, the attacks now sit at the midpoint of Rushdie's post-fatwa career, from the moment he was forced into hiding to the publication of his memoir in 2012. Some critics have identified a rightwards shift in Rushdie's politics over the second half of this period, while others have argued that it would be more accurate to identify a shift in the political world around him.

This symposium aims to contribute to this debate by questioning Rushdie's work – both fictional and non-fictional – throughout the last decade. In doing so, it seeks to answer the following: What changes have taken place in Rushdie's writing in the early 21st Century? What can his recent writing tell us about the contemporary world? And what might it tell us about the role of literature in an age of conflicting fundamentalisms?

Topics for papers may include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
•9/11 and the war on terror
•21st Century identities
•Postmodernism and post-postmodernism
•'World' literature
•Celebrity and spectacle
•Humanism and posthumanism
•Borders and frontiers
•Postcolonial developments
•Rushdie on stage and screen
•Globalisation and cosmopolitanism
•Homo Sacer and states of exception
•Paradox, aporia and undecidability
•The novel as commodity
•New media and video games
•Shifting perspectives
•Rushdie and 21st century theory
•Fiction and non-fiction
•Literature and current affairs