Mapping the Contemporary US Novel: Theories, Forms and Themes

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
special topic section of RSAJournal (Rivista di Studi Americani)

Issue #32 (2021) of RSAJournal: Rivista di Studi Americani, the official journal of the Italian Association for North American Studies (Associazione Italiana di Studi Nord-Americani – AISNA) will feature a special section, edited by Pia Masiero (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) and Virginia Pignagnoli (University of Zaragoza) on “Mapping the Contemporary US Novel: Theories, Forms and Themes.”


Contemporary US novels compose a heterogenous territory whose contours are thematically intertextual, formally intermodal, and intrinsically interdisciplinary: at their pulsating center there lies American reality and the challenge of representing and/or interrogating it. Novelists have long been reality hunters and the changing shape of American contemporary landscape calls for (possibly) new ways of (fictional) representation. In the age of numerous (and baffling) post-post poetics, where, as many argue, everything has already been told, many contemporary authors wonder how the already told may be told anew, how a new pact with the reader may be signed.


In order to better understand the evolution of Anglo-American fiction in the last twenty-years and its possible future developments, the special section aims at presenting the main theories, forms and themes currently emerging in contemporary US novels. The exploration of critical and theoretical discourses, formal devices and narrative strategies will thus intersect with the analysis of the themes and modes influenced by 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. Different theoretical approaches are welcome, and topics may include, but are not limited to:


Contemporary American fiction

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

-       the crisis novel, planetary fiction, ecofiction;

-       contemporary literature and the intersections with the digital turn: digital paratextuality, focus on the “real;”


Postmodernism and beyond

-       continuities and discontinuities; 

-       theories of post-postmodernism, transmodernity, metamodernism, cosmodernism, contemporary realism; 

-       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.


Submission details
Please email an abstract (300-400 words, Word or Pdf) and a short CV to the section editors Pia Masiero,, and Virginia Pignagnoli,


Potential contributors are welcome to get in touch with queries about possible
topics prior to abstract submission.

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 December 2020
Notification of acceptance: 30 December 2020
Full essay draft (around 6000 words) deadline: 31 March 2021