UPDATE: Short Story Sequences (7/15/04; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Jeff Birkenstein

CFP: deadline extended (7/15/04), Short Story Sequences

Collection of Critical Essays

Cultural Representation in the Short Story Sequence

Call for Abstracts

The short story sequence in its American incarnation has been variously seen as a modernist genre, an appropriately expressive form for marginalized groups, or a spatial form well-suited to conveying the essence of a region. While curiously able to reflect formally the tension between individualism and community that lies at the core of those American values that Robert Bellah labels "habits of the heart," the shorts story sequence also embodies the "middleness" characteristic of the Canadian ethos. Given the genre's historical antecedents in various non-Western cultures and its realizations in other national literatures, however, one cannot claim the form exclusively as a North American narrative aesthetic. What Sherwood Anderson once immodestly labeled the "Winesburg form" currently provides an aesthetic that has found a place in a number of national literatures. Previous works on the short story sequence have explored its role in depicting a variety of American communities,
 but a collection exploring the international scope of the short story sequence as a tool for cultural representation would extend previous criticism and forward recognition of the genre's adaptability and vibrancy.

Scope (list is intended to suggest rather than limit approaches): Essays could address the following, either focusing on a specific short story sequence or a limited number of representatives.


· How do colonizer and colonized interact?

· How do multiple communities within one country or region negotiate cultural differences and similarities?

· How do people within a given community reinforce and/or fight against community standards that purport to unify but often divide?


· How does the short story sequence lend itself to an appropriation by various national and cultural literatures? How is place reflected in the form?

· How does the genre take advantage of what Claudia Brodsky terms the "the syntactic ordering of understanding" in order to represent a given community? That is, how does story order play into our understanding of community?

· If, as Wendell Harris claims, "the essence of the short story is to isolate," how does the short story sequence genre come to terms with this force while at the same time unify different stories through form?


· How do sequences from around the world reflect and differ from Winesburg, Ohio and Dubliners (and Turgenev's A Sportsman's Notebook), the works that J. Gerald Kennedy and others claim "epitomize" the genre? How has the genre evolved?

· James Nagel argues that the genre has been often misunderstood and misidentified by American critics. If this is true, is this true in other countries as well? Why?

Focus: The focus of our collection will be determined by the topics we receive, but ultimately we hope to represent the aesthetics of cultural representation using the short story sequence, as well as the variety of cultures that have adapted the form.

Submit: 500-750 word abstract by July 15th. Please submit electronically a copy of your abstract to only one editor. We will notify those whose papers have been selected for inclusion by July 31st. Completed manuscripts (15-25 pages) will be due by December 31, 2004. Feel free to address questions to the editors.

Robert Luscher

English Dept.

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Kearney, NE 68849-1320




Jeff Birkenstein

English Department

St. Martin's College

9377 Siskin Avenue

Fountain Valley, CA 92708



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Received on Tue May 25 2004 - 00:18:16 EDT