The 1960s and James Purdy: American Literature Association, Washington DC, May 22-25, sponsored by the James Purdy Society

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Call for Papers
James Purdy Society
At the American Literature Association 25th Annual Conference
May 22-25, 2014, Hyatt Regency Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill
The 1960s and James Purdy
In celebration of James Purdy's 100th birthday anniversary, the James Purdy Society invites proposals for papers to be presented at the American Literature Association's 25th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., May 22 to May 25, 2014. Our panel will focus on the novels that Purdy wrote or published during the 1960s. We hope to contextualize these works historically, noting critical reception, and to consider them as aligned with, or opposing, the major literary movements of the 1960s such as postmodernism, Beat and counterculture writers, magical realism, gay writers such as Capote and Vidal, and masculinist writers such as Mailer. We also welcome papers elucidating how Purdy's sixties work anticipated or influenced later writers such as Palahniuk, Easton, and Franzen. In light of the recent publication of The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy with an introduction by John Waters, we will also consider proposals for papers discussing Purdy's short fiction.
Purdy's 1960s novels are The Nephew, a Midwestern classic once taught in college courses that has sat neglected and out of print for decades; the caustic and satirical Cabot Wright Begins, which has recently been re-issued; Eustace Chisholm and the Works, an unforgettable and darkly comic tragedy that was highly praised by Jonathan Franzen, who selected Purdy as the recipient of the Mercantile Library's Clifton Fadiman Award in 2005; and Jeremy's Version, the first novel in the Sleepers in Moon-Crowned Valleys series of novels that derived from Purdy's own early biography and the stories he heard from his grandmothers. These novels represent at least three major strains in Purdy's writing: the autobiographically-influenced novels based upon family and his early experiences in northwest Ohio, satire and black humor, and a hybrid of heightened or magical realism and tragedy. Along with the rapid cultural and political changes and turbulence of the 1960s, James Purdy's own life was rocked by the deaths of his parents, his older brother, and literary figures who had aided his early career such as Dame Edith Sitwell, Carl Van Vechten, and John Cowper Powys. The initial surge of interest in Purdy in the late 1950s was followed by positive critical notice by Susan Sontag, Dorothy Parker, and Terry Southern, among others in the early to mid-sixties. After Eustace Chisholm and the Works was published in 1967, however, Purdy became the subject of critical controversy, since his treatment of same-sex love and violence was years ahead of its time.
Please send 250-word proposals with a brief bio to Professor Michael Snyder at and Dennis Moore at by January 26, 2014.