Friday, 20 July 2012

What Happens Now? It's Conference Season....

It’s July, it’s raining, it’s less than two months until C21 Literature went on tour! On 2ndJuly 2012, the University of Brighton and the HEA devoted a whole day to examining new issues, genres, forms and technologies of writing, as well as investigating contemporary theory and criticism and the publication, circulation and teaching of post-millennial writings. The Teaching Post-Millennial Literature symposium united forty five intergenerational scholars—from PhD candidates and ECRs to renowned Professors and senior academics, as well as creative writers and academic publishers including Continuum Bloomsbury, Palgrave and Gylphi—to debate the opportunities and challenges of teaching post-millennial literature.

Offering a platform for engaged theoretical responses, alongside practice-based creative case studies, papers examined post-millennial evolutions in writing since the year 2000, presenting the emerging field of twenty-first century literature as a new and directional source of understanding and creative inspiration. Events were tweeted live and a record of discussions, presentations and photographs from the day can be found at #HEAdayC21. A full report from the symposium will also appear on the HEA Literature Subject Centre website from Autumn 2012.

Later in the month,  discussions relocated North to Lincioln. Headed up by Sian Adiseshiah and Rupert Hildyard, the second bi-annual What Happens Now? conference (16-18 July) united academics, PhD students and writers from across the globe for three days of discussions and readings. Prof Peter Boxall offered keynotes at both Brighton and Lincoln, reflecting on the environmental disaster novel and its predictions for the future of both the novel form and narrative prose in the twenty-first century. His paper at Lincoln focused on McCarthy’s The Road (2006) to reveal the ways in which the novel might name an unnameable present and offer a utopian future gift to the world at a time of transition.

Other panels on the opening day concentrated on the rise of Dave Eggers, the retro-revisiting of the 1970s and 80s in popular fiction and culture, mediating digital experiences of literature and writing comedy in twenty-first century narratives. With readings from Geoff Dyer, Tishani Doshi and Kathleen Jamie, the event was testament to the range and vibrancy of debates underway in this emerging field of literary and cultural studies. C21 Literature enjoyed a preview night as part of What Happens Now? at the Hilton skylight bar overlooking Lincoln Cathedral. With many of the contributors to our first issue in attendance, the night gave us the rare chance to meet some of the brilliant authors whose work will feature in our launch issue this Autumn. The night also provided the opportunity to announce that the second issue of C21 Literature will be guest edited by Sian and Rupert and will feature a range of papers premiered at the conference. Look out for a CFP in October for this 2013 second (REF-able!) Issue.

Issue One will launch this Autumn – for more details, to subscribe, or to find details of the CFP for Issue Two from October, please visit:, add us at or follow us on

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