Teaching Palahniuk in the Age of Trump
Since Fight Club earned Chuck Palahniuk notoriety, critical praise and derision and a committed cult following on the heels of the 1996 novel publication and 1999's David Fincher film adaptation starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham-Carter and Jared Leto, the author and his work have struggled to find critical legitimacy. His reputation, especially at public readings, has been built upon accentuating all the ways grotesque horror can become comically absurd. As he continues to experiment with new forms that transgress not only literary traditions but expectations for his own work, Palahniuk seems to be acutely aware of both his artistic growth and the conflict over his legacy, suggesting that he should be taken more seriously as a 20th and 21st century American literary figure.
In NeMLA 49, the question that was raised was whether Palahniuk's work was even worth studying. Following on from that discussion, and in light of the publication of his newest novel Adjustment Day, the question is: is Palahniuk worth teaching? What relevance does his work have to our times, if any? What can students learn about writing, literature, or society by reading and analyzing Palahniuk's texts? How does the author engage with the political, the social, and/or the cultural, and does it even matter?
This panel welcomes submissions that seek to answer these questions. In particular, we are interested in submissions by those with personal experience in teaching Palahniuk's work. Interested speakers should submit a 250-300 word abstract and short bio through the NeMLA portal.