The Sustainability of the Avant-Garde, Atlanta, November 7-9
In a 2005 essay entitled "Why Experimental Fiction Threatens to Destroy Publishing, Jonathan Franzen and Life as We Know It: A Correction," American fiction writer Ben Marcus suggests that by catering to the masses, authors have willingly diluted their literary works. For Marcus, this is frightening because it means that novelists are "selling out" to readers who crave easy reads in exchange for the author gaining some economic stability. Even worse, he attests that the publishing world is squeezing out those experimental writers whose works are not necessarily economically viable precisely because they do not appeal to a wide audience. This panel explores the sustainability of the avant-garde author in a world where readers are reading less and the publishing world will not publish them. The panel welcomes any papers that discuss how sustainability then becomes a reoccurring issue in contemporary avant-garde literature. Possible topics could include, but are not limited to: How do fears of sustainability shape the work of the avant-garde? What methods have avant-garde novelists adopted in order to remain relevant and somewhat viable? How has the digital age helped or hindered this sustainability? How do these concerns shape the way authors envision their readers? How is the "future" of the novel, avant-garde or not, facing its own struggles with sustainability? Paper proposals should be no more than 300 words and include your name, affiliation, and a short bio; these can be sent to Emily Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.