How has the novel managed, over all these years, to redeem the promise of renewal that is encoded in its very name ? Has the novel’s inexhaustibility to do with the capacity, first identified by Mikhail Bakhtin , to draw into its repertoire, expressive resources from forms as diverse as a government document and the contemporary video game? Or is it that the novel is in consonance with modern habits of thought, specifically, as Catherine Gallagher has suggested, with the movement away from faith to the conditional investment of belief? Are these qualities of the novel responsible for its becoming the basis of some key conceptual categories in the social sciences such as Jurgen Habermas’s “public sphere” or Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities”? Beyond this, is it possible to think of the novel as a valuable resource in the growing interdisciplinary research on visual culture or the body and its histories?
The novel has also been, in a fundamental sense, a travelling text. It has moved freely not only between social spheres within a single geographical terrain but also across national and indeed continental barriers. To what extent has it intersected with popular sub-literary and even oral forms? Of special interest to us in India, are the specific histories of interactions that have driven the varying developments of the novel in our different regions. We believe that the proliferation of the novel across languages and literary cultures can no longer be explained in terms of “influence”, “mimicry”, or “indigeneity”. Rather, we hope that papers will situate the form within mobile norms of literary tradition, emerging print cultures, various forms of public articulation, codes of visuality, political positions and so on. We hope, indeed, that this conference will provide the platform for new, even if tentative, formulations on the novel in India.
This conference invites papers that help to reconceptualize what novels can or cannot do, or that track a specific history of interactions between a novel and the discursive universe that produced it. The conference has a strong interest in the novel in India, but it will by no means be confined to work on the Indian novel. Rather, it treats novel studies as a house with many windows which opens onto many parts of the world. It is our belief that the conference will be the richer if conversations on these topics can draw on a diversity of locations and histories.
Possible topics may include, but are not restricted to:
Novel theories now
The novel and visuality
The novel and the body
The significance of the novel in disciplines outside of literary criticism
Novel criticism in India
Realism in the virtual age
Europe and the development of the novel in India
The novel and orality
The novel and popular print culture
Please send your abstract (300 words) and a brief bionote (150words) to the following email or postal address by 31 January 2013:
Professor Sambudha Sen, Department of English, Delhi University, Delhi – 110007, India
The conference will be held between 4th-6th March, 2013.