Novel Beginnings: Transnational Perspectives on Early Modern Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
University of Huelva, Spain




14-16 September, 2022

University of Huelva, Spain


Though the origins of the novel in English have been reinstated as an object of academic concern in the last thirty years, tackled from the interrelated approaches of history (Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740; Paul Hunter, Before Novels; Lennard Davis, Factual Fictions), genre (Josephine Donovan, Women and the Rise of the Novel) and gender (Janet Todd, The Sign of Angellica; Ros Ballaster, Seductive Forms), other more recent critical works have engaged with the transnational nature of early modern fiction, situating its inception and development in the context of other national forms and traditions (Margaret Anne Doody, The True History of the Novel; Ros Ballaster, Fabulous Orients; Srinivas Aravamudan, Enlightenment Orientalism). With the purpose of reconstructing and interpreting the early days of English prose fiction, we seek to explore its transnational context, attending to the ancient, Eastern and European sources that contributed to its configuration and expansion till the early eighteenth century.

We invite 20-minute papers, panels, and workshops that explore the pan-national nature of the English novel and investigate the relations between the early fiction in English and its foreign sources at different levels, that might include, though not be restricted to, any of the topics below:


  • The early English novel in history: sources and texts
  • The influence of the ancient novel in early modern fiction
  • French nouvelles and English novels: mutual allegiances and liaisons
  • Spanish novelas and the picaresque in English early fiction
  • Letter exchanges: the early novel and epistolarity
  • Eastern influences and orientalist perspectives
  • Classic topoi and motifs in the early novel in English
  • Towards a transnational theory of the novel
  • Political diatribes and religious debates in early prose fiction
  • Questions of genre across national borders
  • Translation, revision and adaptation
  • Intersections of gender and genre
  • The European sources of English romances
  • Truth, wonder, and the limits of fiction
  • Histories of the book: printing, publishing and bookselling across the borders
  • Libraries, archives and the digital era
  • Boccaccio, Scarron, Cervantes: the great European masters and the novel in English
  • Hack-writing and the English novel
  • Intergeneric exchanges: drama and the novel
  • Popularity, canonicity and the new readership


Keynote speakers:

Professor Ros Ballaster, Mansfield College, University of Oxford

Professor Line Cottegnies, Sorbonne Université

Professor Margaret Anne Doody, University of Notre Dame

Professor John A. García Ardila, University of Malta


Please, submit your proposals (250 words) and a short bio to by 31 January, 2022.