CORRECTION! Deadline September 21 9AM - ACLA 2018: Defining Proto-Psychological Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
March 29 – April 1, 2018, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
contact email: 



Organizer: Adele Kudish, Assistant Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

The term “psychological fiction” has been applied so ubiquitously over the last hundred and fifty years that it lacks a precise and useful definition. Indeed, works as varied and chronologically dispersed as Murasaki Shikibu’s romance The Tale of Genji (circa 1021), Giovanni Boccaccio’s Elegy of Madonna Fiammetta (1343–4), Marie de Lafayette’s The Princess of Clèves (1678), Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1787) have all been called the “first psychological novel.” Is this merely because they are all concerned with representing interiority? Or is there another—perhaps more elusive—element that renders these and other works of fiction more psychologically penetrating, more attentive to characters’ minds, psyches, and souls, than others? In other words, how can we talk about “psychological” fiction in works written before the advent of psychoanalysis?

This seminar will attempt to provide some answers to these questions across geographical and disciplinary boundaries. In addition to literary topics, papers on philosophical works that treat what we might call proto-psychology (e.g. Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, etc.) are also welcome. The seminar can also provide new perspectives on older studies of psychological fiction (Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel, Lydia Ginzburg’s On Psychological Prose, Leon Edel’s The Modern Psychological Novel, for example). The only constraint is chronological: studies of works written prior to 1900 will be given preference.

All approaches and topics are welcome, including, but not limited to:

- Literature and/or philosophy from any period from antiquity to 1900

- Sensibility and sentimentality

- The French roman d’analyse

- Epistemology

- Philosophy of mind

- Game Theory

- (Meta-)consciousness

- Theory of Mind and other cognitive approaches

- Affect Theory and other non-linguistic representations of emotions

- Trauma

- Intertextual and cross-national approaches