THE LEGACY OF SHERWOOD ANDERSON'S GROTESQUES IN THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY--ALA May 22-25, 2014
International Susan Glaspell Society
Call for Papers The American Literature Association 25th Annual Conference
May 22-25 2014, Washington D.C.
THE LEGACY OF SHERWOOD ANDERSON'S GROTESQUES IN THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY
"It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood."
Sherwood Anderson's explanation of the grotesque—expressed in the opening story of Winesburg, Ohio (1919)— reads like a manifesto for the modern short story. Anderson's grotesques are not the murderous villains of Poe's stories nor the disfigured souls of Hawthorne's fiction. Rather, his grotesques are the quiet neighbor, the religious farmer, or the solitary painter. In an era when the truth could be dangerous, Anderson articulates a vision of the quotidian and familiar as grotesque.
The International Susan Glaspell Society invites papers on the influence of Anderson's grotesques in the American short story. Often this influence has been directly attributed by writers such as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jean Toomer, Raymond Carver, and Russell Banks. More broadly, the American short story seems a form preoccupied with moments of character illumination in the mode of Anderson's grotesques that may be less directly attributed but no less influential, in the work of writers such as Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, and others. Susan Glaspell, a contemporary of Anderson, wrote stories whose characters' attempts to hold on to something—a truth, a past, a desire—alienate them from others and even from themselves, much in the manner of Anderson's grotesques. As Midwestern writers living in the East, Glaspell identified personally with Anderson's isolation, suggesting that trying to live by the truth of art could render the writer a grotesque. But, as in Anderson's influential short-story cycle, "the grotesques were not all horrible. Some were amusing, some almost beautiful."
As per ALA panel requirements, paper presentations will be limited to 20 minutes (approx. 10 pages). Send one-page abstract with university affiliation and contact information by January 25, 2013, via e-mail to Martha Carpentier and Jennifer Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com