The Alluvium Panel: “Interrogating the Boundaries of the Literary in the 21st Century: Emerging Ideas”

Zoe Bulaitis 3Lecture Theatre (Conference Room for overflow)

Panel Curators (Current Managing Editors of Alluvium)
Chloe Ashbridge (University of Nottingham)
Zoe Bulaitis (University of Manchester)
Caroline Wintersgill (Winchester University / UCL)

Alluvium is an open access scholarly journal dedicated to 21st-century writing and 21st-century approaches to the literary canon ( At English: Shared Futures, Alluvium proposes to present six flash papers (8 minutes each) exploring the idea of literary boundaries in the 21st Century, whether of genre, form, discourse or discipline. These ‘Flash Papers for the Twenty-First Century’ have been divided into two thematic sections, with 30 minutes for questions and discussion at the end of the session.

Since Alluvium is dedicated to promoting new voices, our speakers are all PhD students and ECRs. They were selected from an open CFP and summaries of their abstracts are included below.

STRAND ONE: Politics Identities and the Self in the Contemporary Novel

Jade Hinchliffe (University of Hull) is a PhD researcher at The University of Hull, funded by the North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities. Her interdisciplinary thesis explores surveillance, social sorting and critical posthumanism in twenty-first century critical dystopian fiction. Her flash paper explores critical dystopian fiction and its importance as a political genre, in reference to Sabrina Vourvoulias’ Ink (2012).

Christine Lehnen (University of Bonn) is an author, theatrical director and teacher of creative writing. Her paper will reflect on two pieces published in Alluvium this year. She will reflect upon contemporary European literature written in the UK and discuss how practitioners perceive the role of their national identity and post-national solidarities in their writing. Original interviews with David Szalay and Ali Smith will inform her paper.

Arya Thampuran (University of Durham) is a PhD researcher interested in alternative reading practices for somatic expressions of trauma, drawing on indigenous African epistemologies. Using Walter Mignolo’s elaboration of ‘border thinking’, Thampuran’s paper seeks to offer a counter-narrative of trauma that rescripts an Euro-American psychiatric, diagnostic narrative, and its attendant notions of the whole, healthy self.

STRAND TWO: Art and the Contemporary Novel

Sofie Behluli (University of Oxford) is a PhD researcher at Lincoln College. Her paper ‘Painting with Words in Contemporary Fiction’ will investigate the word-image aesthetics in Amy Sackville’s fictionalized biography of Diego Velázquez, Painter to the King (2018). Behuli argues that Sackville’s use of the motif of the frame – both as a metaphorical frame narration and as a literal object in the story-within-the-story – implicates the reader within its meaning-making processes of seeing, knowing and distributing power.

Katie Harling-Lee (University of Durham) is a musician and PhD researcher interested in ‘musico-literary novels’: novels which are thematically concerned with music. Her paper defines the characteristics of this recent generic trend, using examples from Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Thien 2016), Orfeo (Powers 2014), The Cellist of Sarajevo (Galloway 2008), Bel Canto (Patchett 2001), and The Noise of Time (Barnes 2016). This paper proposes that these musico-literary novels present conflict and upheaval in ways that illuminate how we relate to classical music, raising important questions about the power often ascribed to music.

Julie Tanner (QMUL) is a PhD researcher interested in visual art and the novel. Her paper ‘Verbal and Visual Thresholds in the Contemporary Novel’ explores the recent upturn in novels that engage with visual art (e.g The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, How to be both by Ali Smith and 10:04 by Ben Lerner). Using examples from the recent work of Ben Lerner, Tanner’s paper will explore how the uncertain boundaries of intermediality are embraced and tested by the contemporary novel, resulting in new ways of engaging with both word and image.

Fri 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm