Department of English Literature
The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India
words words words 
The Future of Literary Writing
An International Conference

25 - 27 November 2015
Venue: Room No. 1, Ground Floor, New Academic Block, EFL University, Hyderabad

 

One of the primary objectives of this conference is to investigate the question of whether something like “literary writing” exists at all. When we talk of the “future” of literary writing, the implication is that there is something called literary writing whose boundaries, expanding ceaselessly to accommodate discourses, are as diverse and varied as Artificial Intelligence, Medical Anthropology and Economic Methodology. Thus, A. M. Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” is as much an exercise in the literary imagination as are textbooks on methodology in social sciences which are grappling with the definitions of terms. The aim of this conference is to arrive at a clarification of what constitutes the discourse of the literary. Is there a ‘literary’ as in literariness, or is the ‘literary’ a critical invention emerging at a certain point in the history of knowledge(s)? Is James Joyce a literary writer, and James Hadley Chase – a writer of thrillers – a popular writer? Is George Orwell, who writes popularly without being a dedicated stylist in the same sense as the Modernists, somewhere in between James Joyce and James Hadley Chase? Is Shakespeare both a literary artist and a popular entertainer? What makes a work ‘literary’ while something else gets labeled as less than literary?

Can the idea of the literary be sustained in the twenty-first century where increasingly the big publishing houses (as part of the culture industry) decide upon the parameters that define the nature of “writing”? Do we redefine the literary to include popular tastes or is the ‘literary’ a myth perpetuated by a canon which is colonial in character? Contrarily, is there something called the literary or is it merely a way of rejecting what is popular from becoming institutionalized? Can writing ever be non-literary as in the making of a style in creating a certain configuration of words through which we identify writers? In other words, does popular writing continue to be marginalized because it cannot live up to standards that are deemed literary? An understanding of literary writing will involve throwing light on how we understand literature as a discourse that reveals the emotional lives of individuals and societies. In a time-frame in which knowledge is veering towards interdisciplinarity, is it possible for literary writing to exist on its own without altering the foundations of literature as a fluid discourse relying on words to talk about words as if they were merely words?