Very Online Novels (Seminar, ACLA, April 8-11, 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Ian Butcher / Fanshawe College
contact email: 

This seminar asks how novels (and the novel form) have absorbed the internet and how (or if) they can reflect it back to us?

Increasingly, our lives—from work to leisure to grocery shopping—run according to the fractured, eternally scrolling, continuously interrupted rhythms of online. While the pandemic has exacerbated this tendency for some (and introduced it to others), platforms like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have long shaped and structured not only our lives, but also our dreams and desires. Alongside this has come the maturation of the “very online” identity, fluent in the memes and vernacular of social media, cynical and ironic, but also performatively vulnerable, constantly joking but not joking.

If the novel has some special claim to the representation of interiority, social relations, and abstraction, how can we understand its contemporary form within these developments? To that end, what is the very online novel? How can we define its characteristics and what are its exemplars? What work does the very online novel do? We might also ask To what extent is the very online novel a gendered or racialized form? Should it be understood nationally, regionally, or hemispherically? What are the precursors of the very online novel? How can older novel forms help us to understand it? How does the very online novel inflect and/or intersect with genre fiction (e.g., the romance novel)? and How do conditions of production and/or promotion relate to the very online novel?


Submit abstracts via by October 31. Questions/concerns can be sent to the organizer at ianbutcher at gmail dot com.