Iain Banks: Critical Essays - Call for Papers

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A Gylphi Contemporary Writers: Critical Essays Series volume
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Iain Banks: Critical Essays


Edited Jim Byatt, Foreword by Ken MacLeod

A Gylphi Contemporary Writers: Critical Essays Series volume
Series Editor: Sarah Dillon

One of Scotland's most prolific, versatile and enduringly popular writers of fiction, Iain Banks spent the last three decades producing works that ranges from Gothic horror, through thrillers, dark social comedies and interrogations of Scottish identity, to some of the most innovative and entertaining science fiction around. Since his debut novel, The Wasp Factory, appeared in 1983, Banks proved consistently original, shifting effortlessly between genres, periods and landscapes (both outer and inner) in the production of a body of writing that has shocked, amused, and perplexed readers in equal measure.

Despite having attracted a substantial and loyal fan-base, Banks has been curiously neglected in academic terms. This edited volume of critical essays is intended to address this shortfall, offering scholars the opportunity to comment on Banks's oeuvre in critical terms. Essentially two identities in one, the inclusion of the "M." in the name has traditionally been an indicator that we are reading Banks the science fiction author, while its omission leaves the reader in a more earthly, though frequently ambiguous realm. This collection will focus specifically on those works published under the name "Iain Banks" (without the "M."), in order to address the body of work that is usually classified as "mainstream", despite its frequent generic flexibility.

Banks's untimely death earlier this year served as an urgent reminder, if one were needed, that there exists here a rich body of work that deserves the attention of critics and scholars not only in the field of literary studies, but across the spectrum of academia. As part of the Gylphi Contemporary Writers series, this volume will represent the first major academic work specifically addressing Banks's fiction, and will ideally highlight the potential scope of future Banks studies.

Topics which may be addressed include, but are by no means limited to:

- The contemporary Gothic
- Modern Scottish identity
- Nationality, empires and conflict
- Secrets, lies and the family
- Liminality and indeterminacy
- The near-death experience
- The body and corporeal identity
- Evolution and the posthuman
- Terrorism and post 9/11 anxieties
- Games and game playing
- Genre-bending
- Corporations and capitalists
- Technologies, past, present, and future
- Symbolism, ritualism and superstition
- Popular culture, music and celebrity

The editor welcomes essays from any discipline, a variety of theoretical perspectives, and those which engage with media beyond that of the written text. Please send a title and 500-word abstract for chapters of between 5,000 and 7,000 words along with your name, affiliation and 100-word professional biography to drjimbyatt@gmail.com by 30th June 2014.

A Note from the Series Editor: The Gylphi Contemporary Writers Series is dedicated to producing edited volumes of original scholarly work on contemporary writers whose work is popularly and critically valued but on whom a significant body of academic work has yet to be established. Ordinarily, a title in the series is developed out of the best contributions to an international conference on an author, a conference attended by the author, who then writes the foreword to the volume. Iain Banks had given his support to a Banks conference and collection in the Series before he received his diagnosis. In his absence, we have decided to proceed with the publication, but defer the conference. In a reversal of the usual order of the Series, a major conference on Banks will be organised to launch the publication of Iain Banks: Critical Essays and to encourage future Banks scholarship.