William Golding: Beyond Good and Evil

deadline for submissions: 
February 7, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Arabella Currie and Bradley Osborne, University of Exeter

William Golding: Beyond Good and Evil

Call for Papers and Expressions of Interest


We are excited to announce a virtual symposium on the work of William Golding to be held in the spring of 2021 (8th April). We would like to invite all those who are interested in Golding to participate through critical and/or creative responses to his writing, and are particularly keen to hear from emerging scholars and those whose voices have seldom been heard in Golding criticism.


While Lord of the Flies remains a widely read and much studied work of twentieth-century fiction, the rest of Golding’s creative output has suffered from a dearth of serious critical attention in the past two decades. More generally, as the reaction to Rutger Bregman’s recent critique of Golding made clear, the standard picture of Golding remains that of a man haunted by the depraved nature of humanity, whose work is more significant for its moral content than any literary merit (The Guardian, 9 May 2020).


However, the novels themselves and the crucial insights provided by John Carey’s recent biography and Judy Carver’s memoir reveal a more complex portrait of an individual acutely aware of contemporary issues of class, gender and sexuality, who, while tortured by severe bouts of guilt and dejection, nevertheless took joy and optimism from the natural world; from the whole range of classical antiquity; from ground-breaking developments in science; and from the power of language and storytelling to make readers see themselves, each other and the world anew.


Therefore, we strongly encourage critical reactions to the work which either reassess or move beyond the overweening moralism of past scholarship and the worn categories of good and evil, allegory, pessimism, science vs religion, male vs female, modernity vs post-modernity, and original sin. We also welcome creative or personal responses, from appreciations of Golding’s art to pieces which speak to current topics and concerns.


We are looking for presentations between 10-30 minutes which can be delivered in an online format, but are keen for the event to reflect the interests and perspectives of the participants. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved, whether with a formal abstract or with a more general expression of interest. We look forward very much to hearing from you.


Organisers - Bradley Osborne and Arabella Currie, University of Exeter

Deadline - 7 February 2021

Contact - WilliamGolding2021@gmail.com


It is not the complete specimen for the collector’s cabinet that excites us. It is the fragment, the hint. For the universe has blown wide open, is a door from which man does not know whether blessing or menace will come. We pore, therefore, over the natural language of nature, the limy worm-casts in a shell…We stand among the flotsam, the odd shoes and tins, hot-water bottles and skulls of sheep or deer. We know nothing. We look daily at the appalling mystery of plain stuff. We stand where any upright food-gatherer has stood, on the edge of our own unconscious, and hope, perhaps, for the terror and excitement of the print of a single foot.

William Golding, ‘In My Ark’, The Hot Gates (Faber: 1965), 105.