14th June 2013, Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester

Rupert Thomson has a large body of work to interrogate and receives widespread critical acclaim in major publications like the TLS and Guardian. Within the academy, however, there is a dearth of critical engagement with Thomson. This raises interesting scholarly questions around the separate spheres involved in crafting the contemporary canon: literary review culture and academia. One of the possible reasons for this lack of critical engagement is the diversity of Thomson’s output: none of his novels neatly fit a genre, and this very hybridity allows us to reflect upon contemporary fiction’s capacity to challenge genre definitions. Thomson’s novels can be productively placed in dialogue with authors like David Peace, China Miéville and David Mitchell who receive high levels of scholarly attention for their own blurring of the literary/genre divide.

Thomson’s extraordinarily varied oeuvre offers a compelling case study in late twentieth and early twenty-first century literature: an experimental and innovative corpus without a dominant that engages with the legacies of – yet seeks to move beyond – postmodernism. Given these considerations, and as popular acclaim for Thomson is growing amidst Bloomsbury’s high-profile reissue of his titles this August, a conference and collection on this under-researched figure will be both timely and productive.

As this summary indicates, Thomson’s work – which ranges from dystopian alternative futures, meditations on the cultural memory of the Moors Murders, and an unsettling exploration of gender violence – will repay a truly interdisciplinary approach, and we intend to focus on engaging a range of participants from different scholarly disciplines across the school. Crucially, this kind of approach also offers a tightly focused opportunity to reflect on the range of methodological approaches that are used throughout the humanities.

The event is co-sponsored by Gylphi. Lead researchers are Rebecca Pohl and Chris Vardy.

The call for papers is available here: Rupert Thomson CFP