The Anthology of Babel: Papers on Non-Existent Texts
Borges once cheekily wrote, “Writing long books is a laborious and impoverishing act of foolishness…A better procedure is to pretend that those books already exist and to offer …a commentary.” Indeed authors as varied as Borges, Lovecraft, Dick, Apollinaire, Lew, and Asimov placed completely fictional books at the center of their own literary universes. That would make a fascinating subject for an anthology, but that is not this anthology. Rather, what this collection seeks are academic-style works of literary theory and criticism which take as their primary texts completely fictional novels, stories, movements, authors, and films. This panel is interested in the lost Arthurian play of Shakespeare, the Downtown scene of 1970s Akron art cinema, the epic American poetry of Thelbert Patterson, and the 1975 Afro-futurist Blaxploitation biblical film Akhenaton, all of which I made up. For this panel we’re looking for 4,000-6,000 word articles (including footnotes and works cited) about completely made up fictional literary texts, which include analysis and commentary as if they were real. This will not be done as part of a tired parody of academic discourse (at least not on its own), but rather with the abiding belief that criticism and theory are their own branch of creative writing, and never is this more clear, pure, or true than when the texts under consideration are themselves completely invented. Papers focusing on any nationality or time period (real or imagined, past or future) are welcome, as on any genre or form (again, real or imagined). This is an admittedly strange exercise, but one, which I hope, will demonstrate that the purest literary criticism can focus on literature that isn’t even real. Please submit 500 word abstracts to Ed Simon of The Marginalia Review at the Los Angeles Review of Books, at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15th 2017, with an expected turnaround time of three months after acceptance. An academic press has expressed interest, with a hoped for publication date of 2018.