Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
UC Berkeley / UC Santa Cruz

Call for Proposals

Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today

Friday, October 13 to Sunday, October 15, 2017


Mike Amnasan, Dodie Bellamy, Nayland Blake, Bruce Boone, Dennis Cooper, Gabrielle Daniels, Renee Gladman, Robert Glück, Rob Halpern, Carla Harryman, Kevin Killian, Chris Kraus, Eileen Myles, Camille Roy, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Gail Scott, Robin Tremblay-McGaw, Dana Ward

Proposals are invited for papers, panels, and short-format projects to be presented at a conference on New Narrative writing being held at the University of California, Berkeley on October 13-15, 2017.

Emerging in the late 1970s of San Francisco, New Narrative originated at the crossroads of an aesthetically and politically radical poetry scene and the new publics fostered by various social movements of the era, most notably Gay Liberation. New Narrative writing places a frank engagement with sexuality and the body at the center of its creative itineraries, and considers what roles writing can play in articulating and thus politicizing sensual experience and embodied knowledge. By directing attention to the social and political possibilities of fiction and narrative, New Narrative moves between genres as much as between voices and discrepant histories. The effect of such maneuvering was often to self-reflexively thematize the position of the narrator and the impulse to narrate as itself a category of visceral experience, in order to demonstrate the mutual imbrication of self and community. In this way, the writings of New Narrative are importantly in conversation with both contemporary forms of expressivist movement writing, and critiques of signification and the lyric. Today, the study of New Narrative is vital for understanding the history of Bay Area avant-garde literature, particularly in relation to other insurgent literary and artistic movements like Language Poetry, the Black Arts movement, and radical feminist poetics. New Narrative continues to exist in relation to broader national conversations regarding the relationship between writing and sexuality, and between literature and community. New Narrative writing poses the question of fiction’s relation to poetry and the other arts, and to illuminate the existence of writing communities constructed at a distance from the MFA “program era” or New York publishing centers.

The conference will provide the opportunity to reflect on the history of New Narrative, and to consider its legacy for the future. Spanning three days, the conference will include academic papers, readings and Poets Theater performances, film screenings, and exhibits of art and ephemera related to the New Narrative movement. We intend to foster a conversation that keeps questions about literary and social history open by generating new resources and programming for anyone interested in New Narrative writing. All programs will be free and open to the public.

We invite proposals for presentations on any topic pertinent to the history, legacy, and future of New Narrative writing. Topics may include:

  •    Long Notes: Constructing histories of New Narrative
  •    New Narratives of race and whiteness, identity and community
  •    Locating New Narrative: Publications, archives, canons
  •    A community and a future: New Narrative genealogies and legacies
  •    Parallel movements: New Narrative and Language Poetry, New Narrative and Feminist poetry, New Narrative and the Black Arts Movement, New Narrative and Contemporary Asian American, Latinx, and Black Experimental Writing, New Narrative’s “fellow travelers”
  •    The “truth and freedom” of sex?: Gender and sexuality in New Narrative
  •    Academonia: New Narrative with and against the Academy
  •    Describing the present: New Narrative as theory, New Narrative as praxis

In addition to academic papers, we welcome panels or other short-format projects that would afford participants and audience members a vantage on or experience of New Narrative writing that expands traditional academic forms. Proposals should be no longer than one page long and sent by April 15, 2017 to Proposal acceptances will be announced in May. Some funding support for travel may be available, depending on need.

Convened by Lyn Hejinian (Professor, Dept of English, University of California, Berkeley), Chris Chen (Professor, Dept of Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz), Daniel Benjamin (PhD student, University of California, Berkeley), and Eric Sneathen (PhD student, University of California, Santa Cruz).