Sunday, 28 August 2011

Performing Identities in American Literature: Programme of Events

Friday 9 September
Ritson Hall, Alington House, 4 North Bailey, Durham

5.30pm – 6.30pm        Early Bird Registration, wine and nibbles

6.30 pm – 8.00pm       Dance response to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
                                    Readings by Durham University poets

8.30pm                        Informal delegates’ meal at ASK
                                    (Unit 4 Walkergate, Durham)

Saturday 10 September
ES228, ES229 and ES230
Earth Sciences Rooms, University of Durham Science Labs

9.00am – 9.30am         Registration, tea and coffee (ES228)

9.30am – 10.50am       Panel 1: Staging the Past (ES229)

                                    Thom Addinall-Biddulph (Durham)
Washington in Real Life: Rewriting the First President in Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon

Soad Nigm (Newcastle)
“There is no Stoppage, and Never Can be Stoppage”: Walt Whitman and America’s Imperialist Identity

Catherine Charlwood (Independent)
“An Almost National American Poet”: Inauguration Poetry, Robert Frost and Memory as Performance

9.30am – 10.50am       Panel 2: The Self in Society (ES230)

Robbie Moore (Cambridge)
“A Lounging Generation”: Long Legs, Modern Architecture, and Jamesian Cosmopolitanism

Rob Lederer (Edinburgh)
Archiving Identity in the Endangered Domestic Spaces of E. L Doctorow’s Homer and Langley and Paul Auster’s Sunset Park

10.50am – 12.10pm    Panel 3: Constructing the American Subject (ES229)

                                    Fraser Mann (York St. John)
                                    Tim O’Brien and the Nature of Vietnam Truth

                                    Mark Sandy (Durham)
“Fiery Particle”: Keats’ Romantic Self-Presences in the Writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ben Robbins (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Faulkner and Marcuse: The Erotic Identities Between Literature and Film

10.50am – 12.10pm    Panel 4: American Mythologies (ES230)

                                    Camilla Dubini (UCL)
Self-Creation in Marianna de Marco Torgovnick’s Crossing Ocean Parkway

Richard Maguire (King’s College/Arcadia)
Witnesses against Our Vanishing: David Wojnarowicz’s Mythopoeia

M. Cooper Harriss (Virginia Tech)
On the Pseudobiblical: The Rhetoric of Biblical Rhetoric and the Construction of African-American Identity

12.10pm – 1.00pm      Lunch (ES228)

1.00pm – 2.20pm        Panel 5: Narratives of Belonging and Exclusion (ES229)
                                    Roaa Ali (Birmingham)
Arab-American Playwrights and the Confrontation of Stereotype

Xavier Marco del Pont (Royal Holloway)
“We will never run out of you people”: Marginalised Selves and the Repellence of the Other in Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice

Ery Shin (Oxford)
Kristevan Abjection in Djuna Barnes: Silence, Babble, Narcissism, Animality

1.00pm – 2.20pm        Panel 6: Dissecting the American Aesthetic (ES230)

                                    Michael Heitkemper-Yates (Edinburgh)
Toward the Threshold of Experience: Metafiction, Modal Theory and the High Ironic Mode

Nicola Strazzanti (Universit√° degli Studi di Catania)
The Mechanics of Discursive Identity: Translingual Practices in Raymond Federman’s Double or Nothing

Maxwell Minckler (Durham)
Unself, Undress and Unfinish: The Possibilities of Absence in James Tate’s Poetics

2.20pm – 3.40pm        Panel 7: Poetry and Performance (ES229)

Adam Crothers (Cambridge)
“You can’t escape form. Belie / ve me”: Identifying the Offensive in Demske, Muldoon and Seidel

Peter Maber (Cambridge)
Performing the Self and the World in the Poetry of Delmore Schwartz, John Berryman and Sylvia Plath

3.40pm – 4.10pm        Tea and coffee (ES228)

4.10pm – 5.40pm        Keynote lecture from John Beck, Newcastle University 
This lecture will be followed by a round table discussion drawing together the symposium's main themes.    

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Accommodation and Travel Information.


Durham City Map (includes car park locations)


The welcome reception and first registration session will take place from 5.30pm to 8pm on Friday September 9th at Alington House, 4 North Bailey, located in the historic city centre.

The symposium and second registration session will take place from 9am to 5.45pm on Saturday September 10th in rooms ES228, ES229 and ES230 of the Durham University Science Labs (Earth Sciences Rooms).

The two venues are approximately 20 minutes’ walk apart.  As public parking is unavailable at both locations, we would advise that cars are left at your chosen accommodation or a city centre car park.  A Park and Ride bus service is also available at Howlands, next to Ustinov College, which travels past the Science Labs site, into the city centre and back on a day ticket currently priced at £1.70.

Travelling to Durham
By rail
14 trains per day travel from London and Edinburgh to Durham. The journey takes less than three hours from London, one and a half hours from Edinburgh and forty-five minutes from York. For further information, see
By bus
There are several express coach services daily from most major UK cities. Durham’s city centre bus station is well served by both regional express services and the local bus network.
By road
From the South
Take the A1(M) to junction 61, exit toward Spennymoor/A688/Peterlee/A177 (and Durham Services). At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Durham Rd/A177 heading to Bowburn. Continue through the villages of Bowburn and Shincliffe. As you enter Durham city you come to a roundabout where you
take the first exit (Stockton Road), in the direction marked city centre.
From the North
From Newcastle, take the A1(M) to junction 62, exit toward Sunderland/Durham/Consett/A691, or from Sunderland, take the A690 directly. Junction 62 is the main Durham exit and is signposted "Durham" in both directions. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto A690 heading to
By air
The nearest airports are Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley.  It is particularly easy to connect to Durham from Newcastle airport – take the metro to Newcastle Central train station (Metro Map), then a 10-minute train journey south to Durham. Alternatively, a taxi from Newcastle airport will cost approximately £35 one way, depending on the company used.
For further travel information to help you plan your journey to Durham, please see or


Below are some reasonably priced options for accommodation in Durham:
Durham College Accommodation (various locations)
A number of Durham’s colleges offer bed and breakfast accommodation within easy walking distance of the city centre and Science Labs; prices start at £28 per night for an en-suite single room.  Visit or to check availability (St. Chad's and St. John's colleges take bookings via their individual websites).
Travelodge Durham (Station Lane, Gilesgate, Durham DH1 1LJ)
En-Suite single from £29 per night (if booked in advance). About 30 minutes’ walk to Science Labs, 20 minutes to Alington House.
The City Hotel (84 New Elvet, Durham DH1 3AQ)
En-Suite single from £35, double £45 per night. About 20 minutes’ walk to Science Labs, 5 minutes to Alington House.
The Victoria Inn (86 Hallgarth Street, Durham DH1 3AS)
En-Suite single from £48, double £62-70 per night (breakfast included).  About 15 minutes’ walk to Science Labs, 10 minutes to Alington House.
Premier Inn Durham City Centre (Freemans Place, Walkergate, Durham DH1 1SQ)
En-Suite double from £63 per night (there are 3 other Premier Inns located around Durham, accessible by car).
B&B 66 Claypath (66 Claypath, Durham DH1 1QT)
Single from £55, double £65 per night (breakfast included). About 25 minutes’ walk to Science Labs, 10 minutes to Alington House.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Keynote Speaker Announced

We are happy to announce that Dr John Beck will be delivering the keynote lecture at the conference.

Dr John Beck is a senior lecturer in the department of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University. His work explores American literature and visual culture, and he is currently working on a number of projects relating to military bunkers, art schools, modern ruins, documentary film, land art, and landscape photography. His many publications include Dirty Wars: Landscape, Power, and Waste in Western American Literature (2009) with the University of Nebraska Press, and Writing the radical centre : William Carlos Williams, John Dewey, and American cultural politics (2001) published by the University of New York Press.

Richard Moss and Amy Jordan,

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

"Through me many long dumb voices":
Performing Identities in American Literature
Hosted by the Durham University Department of English Studies
Funded by the Durham University Graduate School.
                                                             September 10th 2011

Performing Identities in American Literature seeks to explore the ways in which American identity is defined, enacted and contested in texts from the sixteenth century up to the present day.  Tapping into the influential, yet highly contradictory visions of identity which have dominated the modern field of American Studies, in which multiculturalist and pluralist critiques of a unified national sensibility are set against the “indifference to difference” of an increasing cosmopolitanism (Michaels, 2004), the event invites fresh discussion of the identities contained and performed beneath the umbrella term “democracy”.  By expanding a consideration of the performative beyond the more obviously dramatic aspects of text, we aim to provide a forum for debating the role played by the theatrical dimensions of the imaginary within American literary identities, highlighting the staging of belonging and exclusion that has shaped writers’ responses for more than four centuries.

In the interest of broadening the scope of discussion, we invite abstract submissions for papers of between 20 and 40 minutes in length.  Presentations are welcomed in a variety of formats, from single and joint papers to lecture performances and works-in-progress.  Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Patriotism and anti-patriotism: narratives of belonging and exclusion
  • Migration, immigration and inward expatriation
  • Propaganda and nationalism/exceptionalism
  • Staging the past: re-writing history as literature
  • Issues of authenticity: difficulties inherent in enacting race/class/nation
  • “Textualising” the body and bodily experience
  • Metatextuality and self-reflexive performativity
  • The evolving identity and cultural mythology of the American writer
  • Multiplicity and cosmopolitanism: new directions for American literature

Please submit your name, institutional affiliation and abstract of up to 300 words to by the deadline of July 31st 2011

Amy Jordan, PhD Student at Durham University.
Richard Moss, PhD Student at Durham University.