MMLA 2013 Special Session (Proposed): Is the Artist Present?: Post-Modern Conceptions of the Author (Milwaukee; Nov. 7-10, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
W Brett Wiley (MVNU)
contact email: 

This is a CFP for a proposed special session at the 2013 M/MLA Conference in Milwaukee, to be held Nov. 7-10.

In 2010, performance artist Marina Abramović presented a retrospective show at MOMA entitled Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present that included one new performance. From March 14 to May 31, Abramović performed a solo piece in the museum's atrium; she invited visitors to sit silently across from her for as long as they chose. In this way, she was "present" in more ways than one; being present was her piece, she was present in her piece, and she presented her piece all simultaneously. This unique and profound performance, and the title of the show itself, raises questions about the conception of the artist in contemporary art.

These questions are equally relevant to the discussion of contemporary fiction. From the intentional fallacy to the death of the author, the writer, seemingly, has been decreasing or disappearing for decades. And yet, in post-modern fiction, the author has reinserted him or herself in ways that, at times, relate more to the eighteenth century novel than to the novel of the twentieth century. Zadie Smith creeps into White Teeth to comment on the plot. Jose Saramago self-consciously intrudes upon the action of Death With Interruptions. What is this aberration and what has caused it? Is the author, suddenly, present, sitting in the room, as it were, across the table from us as we read? And if so, what are the implications of this presence? Has the author been resuscitated, resurrected, or at least propped up in apparent lifelikeness?

Please submit an abstract (500 words) and a brief vita to Brett Wiley ( by March 15.