Stories of the Novel: A Workshop on Ancient and Modern Narrative Fiction

University of Bristol, Saturday 8 March 2008

Sponsored by the Classical Reception Studies Network and the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition at the University of Bristol

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Dr Robert Carver, University of Durham

One of the most persistent 'stories of the novel' tells us that the genre appeared in the eighteenth century, and is inextricably bound up with the modes of thought and social formations of European modernity. Ian Watt's account of the 'Rise of the Novel', which suggests that the novel emerged in response to the needs of an expanding middle class, is still broadly accepted. Watt argues that the rise of the novel represents a decisive break with classical literature, one of many oppositions by which the genre is defined. It has also been famously been theorized by Bakhtin in opposition to the epic. The stories told about the novel have thus also been stories about the difference between 'the ancient' and 'the modern'.

This one-day workshop aims to rethink the modernity of the novel in all senses of that term. Through short presentations, round-table discussion, and keynote responses, we seek to open up new dialogues between ancient and modern and to create new ways of theorizing the relationship between historical context and narrative form. How do considerations of the ancient novel disturb the modernizing ambitions of arguments like Bakhtin's? Do analyses of the modern or contemporary novel shed any light on the study of the ancient novel? How can historical periodization inform or hinder the study of a genre or form?

We welcome proposals for fifteen-minute presentations in the form of 150-word abstracts to ika.willis AT or h.c..j.power AT, by 15 January 2008. Proposals from postgraduate students are welcome.