Monthly Archives: February 2020

CfP: MLA Session “Where are the Wonder Girls? Heroines and Persistence in Campus Novels”, Jan 7-10,2020. Deadline for abstracts: March 15, 2020.

“Where are the Wonder Girls? Heroines and Persistence in Campus Novels”

Call for Papers

Modern Language Association Convention

Toronto, Ontario

January 7-10, 2021

Enormous reading pleasure can be derived from Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys but where are the wonder girls? Where are American (campus) novels about gallivanting women academics and writers based in academia, getting into trouble, having multiple lovers in different countries, shoplifting, dancing naked in the rain (the list is suggestive, not exhaustive)? Yet novels which are comic, feel-good, and sporting happy endings? There is a discernible tendency to cast as protagonists of campus novels and artist novels unhappy and unlucky women, tormented victims rather than fierce individuals with agency.

I’m seeking papers on representations of women academics and writers in contemporary US campus literature depicting women’s efforts to survive as artists. I’m interested in e.g. how an artist heroine navigates the nexus between and the lacunae of intellectuality, creativity, and sexuality, juggling different roles the society has burdened her with, while battling various obstacles, exterior and interior and, if she doesn’t have an inherited income and a house of her own, being torn between the need to create and the need to live, caught in a double-bind between art and life, succeeding and/or failing as a woman or as an artist. I’m primarily interested in portrayals of active women artists who are protagonists not mere characters.

Please submit a 250-word abstract and brief biography to marta.lysik@uwr.edu.pl by March 15, 2020.

https://mla.confex.com/mla/2021/webprogrampreliminary/Paper12953.html

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

February 25, 2020 – The New Yorker

“REAL LIFE” IS A NEW KIND OF CAMPUS NOVEL

 

“Condescension of this kind recurs throughout “Real Life,” a campus novel imagined from the vantage of a character who is usually shunted to the sidelines. Taylor’s début shadows Wallace, a gay black student from a small town in Alabama, through a series of personal and professional skirmishes that complicate the last weekend before his fourth year of graduate school. When the book opens, Wallace is pondering whether he ought to leave his university and the predominantly white, Midwestern town that houses it. The loss of his nematodes is the second death that is introduced in the opening pages. Taylor relegates the first to a numb aside: Wallace’s father has just died. His decision to skip the funeral scandalizes his breezy white friends—one of whom, a histrionic Swede, spent the summer before graduate school summiting a mountain to mourn the death of his grandfather. “It was your dad,” another friend reminds Wallace, as though he does not remember. Wallace seems to like these people—perhaps most of all Miller, a surly, mercurial scientist, and the quietest in their group—but none of them manages to comprehend the “curious shape of his grief, which does not bear the typical dimensions.” Wallace holds his friends at a remove, leaving unexplained the childhood trauma that has predisposed him to introversion and distanced him from his family in the first place.”