UPDATE: 21st Century Literature: Now Through History (2/24/07; 3/24/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Brian Whalen

Update: abstract due date has been extended to 2.24.07.

21st Century Literature: Now through History

Madison Conference -- March 24, 2007

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

These imponderables are what I am finally concerned with =96 our sense
of the ground under and around us, our=85 sense of where is it in time
we find ourselves=85 [O]ur relation =96 individually and collectively =96=
to the idea of past, present, and future has been radically
modified. A great many people now live with the feeling that both
the historical and the personal past exist on the other side of a
widening gulf, while the future seems to press down with a palpable

Sven Birkerts, The Millennial Warp

While we expect that a number of conference participants will present
papers that focus on current literary production, as our theme
suggests, we encourage submission from those whose interests lie
outside the contemporary. Our goal in hosting this conference is to
gather a number of distinct voices representative of different
genres, literary movements, historical periods, theories, and authors
=96 with one common thread: an attempt to connect seemingly disparate
interests to the conference theme. We hope this stretch of past to
present, and present to future, will tell us something integral not
only about the current state of literature and literary criticism =96
but also about what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Our conference theme, then, can be interpreted in one of two ways:
that the literature of the present is understood through -- and
influenced by -- a knowledge of the literature of the past, and/or
that the literature of the present provides new epistemological
girding that will in turn inform future literary endeavor. We
suggest, then, that entrance into the 21st century heralds a
transitional moment in the literary arts. If so, where might we
begin to locate the roots of literature in the 21st century? Is it
grounded in the present or in the past? And where does its future lie?

Keynote Speaker: Sven Birkerts

Sven Birkerts is editor of the literary journal AGNI, and author of
six books: An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on 20th Century
Literature, The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry, American
Energies: Essays on Fiction, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of
Reading in an Electronic Age, Readings, and My Sky Blue Trades:
Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time. He has edited numerous books,
and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The
Washington Post, The New Republic, The Yale Review, and Esquire. He
has received grants from both the Guggenheim and the Lila Wallace-
Reader Digest Foundations, and in 1985 was awarded a Citation for
Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle. He
previously taught writing at Harvard University, Emerson, Amherst,
and Mt. Holyoke colleges, and is currently part of the core faculty
of Bennington College=92s MFA program.

Abstracts of 250 words are due by **February 24, 2007**.
Presentations must be kept to 20 minutes in length.

Send abstracts via e-mail to: jmu.madison.conf_at_gmail.com. Please
include name, institution, contact information (telephone, mailing,
and e-mail addresses), title of paper, AV and/or special needs.
Panel proposals are welcome. Please address any further inquiries to

the conference coordinator: whalenbp_at_jmu.edu (Brian Whalen).

Conference Fee: $ 20.00

*Sven Birkerts will also be giving a reading on campus the night
before the conference, Friday, March 23. We will assist anyone
interested in making arrangements for overnight stay Friday and/or
Saturday. There is limited free space available in our current
students=92 domociles (first come, first serve).

Sponsored by the students of the English Graduate Program

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Received on Tue Dec 19 2006 - 17:26:30 EST