Work in Process—Reading David Foster Wallace's The Pale King (22-23 September 2011)

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University of Antwerp, Belgium
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Keynote speakers: Marshall Boswell (Rhodes College) and Stephen Burn (Northern Michigan University)

Three years after the author's death, David Foster Wallace is increasingly seen as a catalyst for a new generation of writers—a generation that tries to reach beyond the representational aporias of postmodernist fiction. At a time when literary reputation is often influenced by Internet buzz and the surrounding hype machine, the publication of Wallace's unfinished novel The Pale King in April 2011 will no doubt affect this development in a variety of ways.

The Research Unit for American Studies at the University of Antwerp invites scholarly submissions for a two-day conference devoted to David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel, to be held on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 September 2011 at UA's city campus.

We welcome all proposals related to The Pale King. Possible directions include:

1. The unfinished novel — genetic criticism and manuscript studies; the reception of The Pale King and the influence of the Internet; a discussion of excerpts published elsewhere and their relation to the novel as a whole.

2. The philosophical novel — boredom, sincerity, religious experience and redemption as important themes; Wallace's literary essays in relation to his final work; The Pale King, Wallace, and the debate on moral fiction.

3. The third novel — Wallace's later fiction and the growing issue of mindfulness; Infinite Jest and The Pale King, from the encyclopedic to the fragmentary; maximalism/minimalism: The Pale King, Wallace's contemporaries, and their literary forebears.

4. The theory of the novel — narrative theory and Wallace's language; representation of the self and subjectivity in the novel; genre theory; The Pale King as an "open" text: cognitive theory and the role of the reader.

The deadline for submission of 500-word abstracts for 30-minute presentations is June 15, 2011. Abstracts should be e-mailed to We intend to send notice of acceptance by July 1, 2011.