21st Century North-American Literature

deadline for submissions: 
June 25, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
25th AISNA Biennial Conference, University of Catania
contact email: 

25th AISNA Biennial ConferenceGate(d)Ways. Enclosures, Breaches and Mobilities
Across U.S. Boundaries and Beyond
Ragusa, September 26-28, 2019 http://www.sdslingue.unict.it/it/content/call-papers-1

Panel # 19
Narratives across borders: generic and epistemological breaches in 21stCentury North-American Literature
September 11, 2001 is often regarded as the cultural boundary marking the end of postmodernism and the beginning of a new literary period. But the metaphorical wall separating postmodern narratives from what comes after is not without breaches that highlight the many continuities between the two periods. For instance, sincerity has now supplanted postmodern irony, with scholars such as Lee Konstantinou arguing for the emergence of ‘post-ironic’ literature (2017) and Adam Kelly exploring the turn to sincerity (2016). Ironic language, however, has not yet disappeared. Despite the fact that 9/11 fostered before/after dynamics, it is a boundary signalling a shift of interest rather than a rupture, as Irmtraud Huber (2014: 6) points out. Indeed, many postmodern devices such as the mixing of genres and media are still employed in contemporary US literature, but not so much to expose and play with ontological boundaries - like postmodernist narratives - as to foreground issues of “relationality, the reader-writer relationship, and intersubjective  problems” (Konstantinou 2017: 100).
This panel seeks contributions exploring the various attempts in North American literature and media at exploring narratives that breach clear-cut boundaries such as postmodernism/post- postmodernism, fiction/nonfiction, and irony/sincerity. How do these generic and epistemological border-crossing intersect with cultural and societal changes such as 9/11, the 2007 financial crisis, the digital revolution, and recent activist movements such as Me Too and Black Lives Matter? How are the current boundaries, walls, divisions, whether metaphorical or not, contributing to the shift of the cultural dominant after postmodernism? How are distinctions and binary categories reshuffled in light of the present historical period?
Contributions are welcome on topics including, but not restricted to:

Contemporary American fiction

  • genres that attempt to dismantle borders such as autofiction and memoir;

  • novels and authors including Lauren Groff, Maggie Nelson, Jonathan Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides, David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Sheila Heti, Teju Cole, Ben Lerner, Michael Chabon, Jesmyn Ward, George Saunders;

Postmodernism and beyond

  • continuities and discontinuities;

  • theories of post-postmodernism, transmodernity,  metamodernism;

  • explorations of the post-human, post-truth, post-memory; new sincerity and post-ironic mode;

  • issues of relationality, the reader-writer relationship, and intersubjective problems;

Narratives and digital media

  • borders, no borders, limits;

  • transcontinental bridges through archival data;

  • contemporary literature and the intersections with the digital turn: thematic influences, digital paratextuality, focus on the “real.”

Panel Coordinators:
Pia Masiero, University of Venice Ca' Foscari, masiero@unive.it
Virginia Pignagnoli, “Juan de la Cierva” Research Fellow, University of Zaragoza, vpignagnoli@unizar.es