Symposium 2017: "Novel Reality" and Knausgaard's "My Struggle" (Vol. 1)

Welcome to the Brandeis Novel Symposium, an annual one-day conference that holds its inaugural event on April 28, 2017. Each year, the conference will have a dual focus: both on a particular novel and on the theoretical and scholarly questions it raises. On the one hand, scholars with expertise pertaining to the chosen novel will explore the work and its context: the controversies it has raised, the interpretive possibilities it presents. On the other hand, there will be a panel that treats a broader set of theoretical, critical and conceptual issues.

This year, the BNS board has selected My Struggle (Vol. 1) by the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard. (Schedule of the day.) Toril Moi's talk will capture the key theoretical issue raised by Knausgaard's work: "Must Novels be Fictional?" she asks. We selected Knausgaard as this year's focus for precisely that reason: the reception of his work resonates with past debates about the relationship between fiction and actuality, from Cervantes and Rousseau forward. Moi and Nick Dames will both explore the contours of the space between reality and fiction as they are worked out in My Struggle.

This year's theory panel, "Novel Reality," tackles various aspects of the larger question of mimesis, indexicality and virtuality raised by the relationship between fictionality and the real. Speakers are Sanjay Krishnan(BU), Maurice Lee (BU) and Beth Blum (Harvard). The day will culminate, after Nick Dames's plenary talk, with an open discussion of possible future topics and novels for the following year's event.

Thanks to the generosity of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the whole day is free, but prior registration is required. You can register for the conference here.

Graduate students from any institution can also sign up for one of two pre-conference seminars (one will be on Knausgaard, the other on the topic of "Novel Reality," with pre-circulated theoretical reading), followed by lunch with the speakers.

Please spread the word about this inaugural event by forwarding this webpage to others who might be interested, and posting it to Facebook. We really need your help for this event and future ones to succeed. Stay updated about latest developments by liking our Facebook event page. And if you want to stay connected in the future and hear about further events (not to mention joining a discussion about possible future novels), then join our permanent Facebook group.

[Coming soon: follow the event on Twitter @NovelSymp2017; or tweet the event #BNSKnausgaard]

Traveling to and from Brandeis

Further questions? contact the BNS at