CFP: The Figure of the Author in the Short Story in English, 8-9 April 2011, Angers, France

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Université d’Angers, France and Edge Hill University, U.K.

The CRILA short story research group (JE2536) of the Université d'Angers, France, will be hosting an international conference in collaboration with Edge Hill University, U.K. on "The Figure of the Author in the Short Story in English," 8-9 April 2011 at La Maison des Sciences Humaines, Université d'Angers, France.

Plenary speaker: Charles E. May, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Long Beach.

The specter of the author has haunted the scene of contemporary literary criticism since the advent of 20th century authorial displacements. William K. Wimsatt Jr. and Monroe C. Beardsley heralded the age of Anglo-American New Criticism with "The Intentional Fallacy" (1946) and the "The Affective Fallacy" (1949), insisting that the meaning of a literary text is to be found in the text's status as an independent artifact and not in authorial intention. The author is later explicitly declared defunct in France with Roland Barthes' infamous "The Death of the Author" (1967), voicing the concerns of post-structuralism where the author is écriture rather than a historical, psychological figure. This tendentious essay, along with Michel Foucault's "Author function" in his 1969 essay "What is an Author?" helped foster an aura of suspicion and controversy around authorial identity, and the repercussions of authorial "death" or "disappearance" continue to ripple through literary criticism today. The author has "died" only to be replaced by a proliferation of conceptual guises: "implied author," "text," "structure," "intentionality," or even, perversely, "reader." French scholar Antoine Compagnon even suggests in Le Demon de la Théorie (1998) that the author is like a demon who is virtually impossible to expel from literary criticism. In the meantime, the rise of Creative Writing as a distinctive form of critical discourse in the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere, seems to place the biographical author once more at centre stage.
Wherever we turn, we are confronted with the question of authorship, particularly if we juxtapose criticism with the public sphere, where the expression "death of the author" meets with bewilderment as readers rush to book signings and author events Many authors actively cultivate authorial personas through websites, blogs, facebook and twitter . This conference proposes to re-investigate the question of authorship through the lens of the short story, as the brevity of the genre and its emphasis on form seem to intensify an impression of authorial presence. As Charles May has observed, short stories are "more dependent on craftsmanship and exhibit more authorial control than novels" (May 1994, xxvi.). We propose to bring together literary authors and scholars to examine the issue of authorial manifestations in the short story. Some questions to consider might include, but are not limited to, the following:

How has critical method evolved since 20th century "attacks" on the figure of the author ?
How might we assess our current critical practices regarding the authorial figure?
What concepts, such as the "implied author," have emerged in the wake of authorial "death," and how might these concepts be re-evaluated today?
What role does authorship (individual, corporate, anonymous, erroneous) play in both the composition and reception of literary works?
How might we draw connections between the theorization and study of authorship and the critical study of specific fictional works?
In what ways do short narratives amplify or attenuate perceptions of the authorial figure?
Has the gap between authors of fiction and the study of authorship been adequately addressed over the last 50 years? How do we perceive this gap in contemporary critical circles? How might we confront the perspectives of fiction writers and critics?
How do political contexts or concerns (race, class, gender….) affect perceptions of authorship? How does the authorial figure function in politically saturated fictional texts?
How do historical or cultural contexts affect concepts of authorship? In what ways have modern and contemporary writers recovered historical modes of authorship? (For example, contemporary appropriations of fairy tale or other forms of collective narrative (oral or written)).
How do contemporary practices and theories of intertextuality, parody, pastiche, affect our perception of authorship?
How do metafictional/metatextual modes allow us to contemplate the question of authorship? How do such modes affect perceptions of authorial presence or absence?

We also welcome presentations dealing with authorial issues arising from translation or cinematographic adaptation and studies of authorial performance or marketing techniques. Presentations from short story authors are particularly welcome.

A selection of articles will be published in two peer review journals: Short Story in Theory and Practice (, published by Intellect Press, and The Journal of the Short Story in English (, published by Université d'Angers

Paper proposals of approximately 300 words in English, followed by a short bio-bibliography, should be sent to the following conference organizers for 15 December 2010:
Michelle Ryan-Sautour (
Ailsa Cox (