[UPDATE] The pastoral turn in contemporary literature

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Judith Seaboyer, University of Queensland
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The President of the MLA, Marianne Hirsch, has announced her theme for the 2014 meeting of the MLA in Chicago: "Vulnerable Times addresses vulnerabilities of life, the planet, and our professional disciplines, in our own time and throughout history. Its aim is to illuminate acts of imagination and forms of solidarity and resistance that promote social change."

As pastoral theorist Annabel Paterson has pointed out, "it is not what pastoral is that should matter to us"; what is far more useful is "how writers, artists, and intellectuals of all persuasions have used pastoral for a range of functions and intentions that the Eclogues first articulated." With this in mind, I am proposing a session that considers ways in which the Virgilian pastoral mode with its inherently dialogic structure and its fundamental themes of loss and exile, retreat and return, and its political context of war and the effects of war, might be seen to address the theme of "vulnerable times." Papers might consider, for example, the work of J. M. Coetzee, Jim Crace, Jonathan Franzen, Damon Galgut, and Ian McEwan.

250-word abstracts by 15 March 2013