Colours of Memory: A Conference on the Writing of Geoff Dyer, 11th July 2014.

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Birkbeck, University of London
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Papers are invited for the first academic conference dedicated to the writing of Geoff Dyer—novelist, essayist, critic, travel writer and omnivorous public intellectual. Winner of many prestigious awards (including the 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize, the 2009 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Best Comic Novel and the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism) he is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

2014 will mark 25 years since the publication of Dyer’s first novel — The Colour of Memory (1989)— and a body of work whose distinctive combination of formal innovation, erudition and wit has won him both critical acclaim and a broad literary following, but little sustained academic scrutiny to date. This conference aims to bring together scholars with expertise in this important author for the first time, but also to use Dyer’s work as a way of accessing some of the most urgent debates in contemporary literary studies.

Dyer is an interstitial figure: his blending of memoir, essay and fiction ('creative criticism’) and use of intertextuality and sampling in his writing work together to challenge established generic boundaries and cultural hierarchies. His interests take in everything from film, photography, travel, jazz and Modernist literature to drugs, doughnuts, rave music and the poetics of procrastination. His playful, personal and sometimes meandering style expands our understanding of how criticism relates to its subject, but also amounts to a commentary on the contemporary itself, specifically questions of uncreativity, 'reality hunger' and exhaustion in the information age.

Taking our cue from Dyer’s wide-ranging work, we invite papers which speak to a variety of themes in the author’s work. Papers may also place Dyer’s work in conversation with that of other authors or as a focus through which to address broader critical and contextual questions. Topics might include, but are not limited to:
• Creative criticism
• Remix culture
• Conceptual writing and uncreativity
• 1980s and 1990s British fiction
• Postmodern travel writing
• The slacker generation and after
• Anti-intellectualism and the place of the critic
• Englishness and postcolonial melancholia
• The poetics of boredom
• Photography and cinema
• Music in contemporary fiction
• Modernist hauntologies
• Retromania and nostalgia
• Rave fiction

The conference welcomes proposals for individual papers or panels. We are open to papers which, like Dyer’s writing, experiment with the established boundaries of the genre. Submissions are welcome from both research students and academics. Please send a title and 300 word abstract for a 20 minute paper along with your name, to Bianca Leggett, The conference will be held on 11th July 2014 at 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck, London.

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