CFP: [American] Rethinking Realism in American Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Adam H. Wood
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Rethinking Realism in American Literature: SAMLA Special Session

The South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference (SAMLA) will be
held November 6-8, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Renaissance Atlanta
Hotel Downtown

If for High Modernists realism seemed antiquated for its traditionalist
formal techniques, then for High Postmodernists realism appears as
inherently and, thus, ideologically flawed. Indeed, J. F. Lyotard argues
in “What is Postmodernism?” that what we perceive of as “reality” itself is
always already inculcated in an image of reality put forward and enforced
by the dominant culture and thus realism functions only inasmuch as it
provides “the ‘correct’ images, the ‘correct’ narratives, the ‘correct’
forms which the party [as embodiment of the hegemonic culture] requests,
selects, and propagates [. . . ] as the appropriate remedy for the anxiety
and depression that [the] public experiences.” For Lyotard, then, to
fulfill the “promise” of realism is to always put art to purely
“therapeutic uses.” And while examples of this type of realismâ€"or,
perhaps, this use of realismâ€"may certainly be found, are there not also to
be found examples of realism that violate this definition? Are there not
forms of realism (or, more broadly conceived, of verisimilitude) that
radically resist Lyotard’s oversimplification?

To expand this discourse, I seek papers that rethink the forms and/or
ideologies of American realism. Topics may include, but are in no way
limited to:

--new readings or theories of traditionally realist texts
--the “realism” of literary naturalism
--“minor” realisms (in terms of ethnicity or gender)
--modernist uses of realism
--postmodernist uses of realism
--subaltern realisms
--experimental realisms
--violence and realism
--the “return” to realism post 9/11

Please email abstracts of no more than 500 words to Adam H. Wood at by May 15.

Adam H. Wood
Assistant Professor
Salisbury University

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Received on Thu Jan 22 2009 - 13:07:05 EST