Extended deadline: Campus Nostalgia. An International Seminar on Campus Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
September 19, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu


Call for Papers

Campus Nostalgia: An International Seminar on Campus Fiction

15 – 16 October 2021, online


School of Letters and Arts, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu




In the current academic year, most universities ‘boast’ an almost exclusively online environment, whether used for classes, faculty meetings or student hangouts. The general mood of despondency and disappointment among teachers and students seems to be counteracted by a buoyantly renewed interest in campus novels. Consequently, the genre forms the subject of a host of articles published in the last twelvemonth in Lit Hub, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, Bustle, Publishers Weekly, independent student newspapers of British universities (Cambridge, St Andrews, Bristol), and independent booksellers and online communities. Not surprisingly, many of these articles are blatantly nostalgic and unabashedly escapist. They foreground the comforting potential of immersing oneself into the fictional world of (safe) campuses and quads on the one hand and indulge in a retrospective, stocktaking stance on the other: countless top tens of best campus novels mushroom across the dramatically titled pieces (e.g. “Campus Novels Are What We Need”, “Possibly the Only Safe Campuses You’ll Find This Year”). The first campus novel dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic is yet to be written. In the meantime, it is worth considering whether this nostalgic response has not always been inspired by campus novels: a quick look reveals the fact that student life and its inevitable associations with youth have always galvanized readerly nostalgia. Indeed it seems that nostalgia permeates campus novels in yet another sense as well: the sense of the loss of and yearning for the university of the past – e.g. for the non-utilitarian view of the university as an institution of knowledge ‘for knowledge’s sake’ – but also for the academic profession of the past; in short, what A. E. Housman called “the land of lost content” (Moseley 2021). As it has always done, the campus novel acts as a mouthpiece for beleaguered academics and students everywhere, lamenting the replacement of “epistemological value with financial value, [of] quality with quantity” (Docherty 2006).

            Considering all these (and other) nuances and instances of academic/campus nostalgia and its possible reappraisal in light of the new situation we find ourselves in, we invite papers on the campus novel genre related (but by no means restricted) to this topic. During the seminar, we will unashamedly indulge in a nostalgic simulation of a face-to-face, intimate conference setting by having an informal, book-club sort of evening session on David Lodge’s Small World. We also look forward to author readings from two recent academic novels: Max Besora’s The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia (2020) and Lucian Bâgiu’s Bestiary: Oriental Salad with Fictional/Peacock Academics (2008).The second evening involves a dinner – albeit in front of the screen – featuring local dishes and wines we can present to one another.


Keynote speakers:        Professor Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim, University of Gdańsk

Professor Emeritus Merritt Moseley, University of North Carolina at Asheville


We invite abstracts for twenty-minute papers on campus fiction. Please submit an abstract of 150-200 words with a brief biographical statement to corina.selejan@ulbsibiu.ro. The extended deadline for submission of abstracts is 19 September 2021.

Organizers:      Corina Selejan, Ph.D. corina.selejan@ulbsibiu.ro

                        Iris Rusu, M.A. iris.rusu@ulbsibiu.ro


Blake, Matt. “The Best Campus Novels in Literature.” Penguin, 21 Oct. 2020. https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/october/best-university-campus-n...

Carroll, Michelle. “Meet You on the Fictional Quad: 10 Campus Novels.” Powell’s Books, 15 Sep. 2020. https://www.powells.com/post/lists/meet-you-on-the-fictional-quad-10-cam...

Colyard, K. W. “Missing Campus Life? 15 Books That Will Give You Major Nostalgia.” Bustle, 22 Aug. 2019. https://www.bustle.com/p/15-campus-set-novels-for-readers-who-miss-back-...

Docherty, Thomas. Aesthetic Democracy. Stanford UP, 2006.

Empson, Henry. “Campus Novels Are What We Need.” The Stand, 31 Jan. 2021. https://thestand-online.com/2021/01/31/campus-novels-are-what-we-need/

French, Martha. “Back to School: Five of the Best Campus Novels.” Varsity, 2 Oct. 2020. https://www.varsity.co.uk/arts/19905

Layden, Emily. “9 Best Campus Novels (and One Memoir).” Publishers Weekly, 17 Feb. 2021. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/art...

Moseley, Merritt. “Academia in the Marketplace: The Fictional Riposte.” Campus Fictions. Literary and Intermedial Constructions of the University World, edited by Janna Aerts, Inge Arteel and Janine Hauthal, Academia Press Gent, 2021, pp. 59-74.

Nietzel, Michael T. “Sheltered in Place? Read the Best of the New Campus Novels.” Forbes, 1 Apr. 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2020/04/01/sheltered-in-pla...

Riley, Elliot. “5 Campus Novels to Get You in the Mood for Fall.” Book Riot, 4 Sep. 2020. https://bookriot.com/best-campus-novels/

Saint, Marine. “From The Secret History to Normal People: How Is Universoty Represneted In Literature?” epigram, 1 Feb. 2021. https://epigram.org.uk/2021/02/01/from-the-secret-history-to-normal-peop...

Temple, Emily. “The New Class: 15 Great Campus Novels Published in the Last 10 Years. Possibly the Only Safe Campuses You’ll Find This Year.” Literary Hub, 26 Aug. 2020. https://lithub.com/the-new-class-15-great-campus-novels-published-in-the...

“There’s a Book for That: Campus Novels.” Penguin Random House, 29 Aug. 2018. https://global.penguinrandomhouse.com/announcements/theres-a-book-for-th...

Tyson, Charlie. “The Apocalyptic New Campus Novel. In Christine Smallwood’s story of scholarly precarity, what the academy wastes above all is human potential.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 Mar. 2021. https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-apocalyptic-new-campus-novel?bc_no...

Wood, Victoria. “14 Campus Novels to Cozy up with this Fall.” BiblioLifestyle, 23 Oct. 2020. https://bibliolifestyle.com/14-campus-novels-to-cozy-up-with-this-fall/