Coetzee's Other Arts (July 18, 2016)

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University of the Western Cape

Coetzee's Other Arts
University of the Western Cape
18 July 2016

Much recent scholarship on the work of J. M. Coetzee has focused on the relationship of his work to specific writers and literary traditions as well as to the broader philosophical tradition. Coetzee's interests and activities, however, extend beyond the text-based focus of most of this scholarship to collaborations with visual artists and composers as well as text-based performance arts like film and opera, not to mention poetry. At the same time, the recently expanded Coetzee archive is enhancing our understanding of his long-standing engagement with forms like film and photography, providing the basis for the recently published Two Screenplays (UCT Press, 2014), and shedding light on the range of adaptations for theatre and film that have been staged and mooted over the years.

This conference, then, aims to extend the current critical discussion to consider Coetzee's sustained engagement with other art forms. What we are terming Coetzee's Other Arts will focus on Coetzee's relationship to artistic forms beyond the printed novel, with a particular emphasis on non-literary and performative forms such as photography, film, painting, sculpture, music, dance, opera and theatre. We welcome proposals for papers that speak broadly to this topic, which might include:

• Coetzee's collaborations with other artists (Berlinde de Bruyckere, Nicholas Lens)
• Adaptations of Coetzee's novels for theatre, opera, film, music, or visual arts and responses to his work by other artists
• Coetzee's critical and non-fiction writings on film, music, visual arts and poetry as well as his engagement with writers known for their dramatic works (Beckett is only the most obvious)
• Photography, film, theatre, dance or opera as they feature within the fiction
• Coetzee's formal engagement with the conventions and techniques of other art forms in his fiction, especially non-verbal and performance-based forms, as well as poetry

Reorienting Coetzee scholarship around a broader range of artistic forms will, it is hoped, bring new material and contexts to existing areas of critical debate. Coetzee's Other Arts aims to offer fresh perspectives on such topics as the representation of the body in the fiction, Coetzee's interest in nonhuman animals, his engagement with philosophy and the philosophy of language, his work's relationship to history and politics, and the various ways in which his work is located – regionally, nationally and internationally. Coetzee's persistent reworking of the novel form and conscious engagement with its history, as well as his sustained concern with textuality and the materiality of writing, will act as a platform for a reconsideration of questions of genre and medium, building on and contributing to existing scholarship on, for example, the relationship between drama and the novel form (Hodgson Anderson 2009, Kurnick 2012, Marshall 1986, Puchner 2002). It is also hoped that efforts to conceptualise Coetzee's relationship with art forms other than narrative fiction will contribute to scholarship on adaptation, intermediality and performance.

The conference will be hosted at the University of the Western Cape, and is co-organised by UWC Department of English and the Faculty of English Language and Literature, Oxford.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words by April 22, 2016 to

For information and updates:

Conference organisers
Dr Kate Highman (UWC)
Dr Michelle Kelly (Oxford)
Dr Hermann Wittenberg (UWC)