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Rethinking Modernist Novel Theory, MSA 16 (Nov 6-9, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA)
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Nicholas Dames concludes _The Physiology of the Novel: Reading, Neural Science, and the Form of Victorian Fiction_ (2007) by imagining I.A. Richards as the heir of G.H. Lewes, Alexander Bain, and other 19th-century thinkers who placed the reader at the center of novel theory and defined the genre in terms of its imagined effects on readers. Dames’s analysis of Richards is suggestive in how it challenges our received genealogy of novel theory, in which modernists from James on removed the reader as a topic, replaced it with form and point of view, and transferred theoretical emphasis from the affect and physiology of the reader to the epistemology of the text itself.
This panel seeks to build on Dames’s work by exploring modernists’ novel theory from new perspectives. What hidden confluences and divisions can we trace between modernists or from modernism across history of novel theory? What new light can we cast on the old chestnuts of modernist novel theory--point of view, spatial form, difficulty, the common reader, flat and round characters, and life versus form, to name a few? What new texts or concepts can we add to modernism’s canon of novel theory? Papers might consider academic novel theorists (Percy Lubbock, Q.D. Leavis, F.R. Leavis, Arthur Quiller Couch, Carl Grabo, etc.), the novel theory produced by novelists (Wyndham Lewis, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, E.M. Forster, Vernon Lee, and D.H. Lawrence, to name just a few), novel theory in little magazines or reviews, theories of highbrow/middlebrow, affect in novel reading, behaviorism or psychology in novel theory, relations between media in genre theories, novel versus poetry in modernism, modernism’s relation to New Criticism, etc.
Please send inquiries or 250-word abstracts and brief biographical notes by April 20, 2014, to Heather Fielding at firstname.lastname@example.org.