Lydia Davis is an award-winning author of nine short story collections, a novel, two volumes of essays, and a translator of Maurice Blanchot, Michael Leiris, Marcel Proust, and Gustave Flaubert. Beginning her career amidst the second wave of postmodernism, her very short stories – some only a paragraph or even a sentence long – have drawn comparisons with postmodern metafiction, literary minimalism, and LANGUAGE poetry. Her eclectic interests and unexpected manipulation of genre and form, however, frequently defy categorisation. Despite her popularity and acclaim, relatively little scholarship has been produced on Davis’s work across her fifty-year career and she has been largely left out of prominent accounts of contemporary literary history.
Lydia Davis in Context seeks to commission and develop new research for a landmark edited collection that redresses the marginalisation of Davis in the contemporary literary canon and repositions her work within new literary, critical, theoretical, and aesthetic contexts. The collection seeks to re-evaluate and reinvigorate the contexts through which Davis has been commonly read (postmodern metafiction, translation, minimalism) and looks beyond them to new and unexplored facets of Davis’s work. Lydia Davis in Context will make a bold case for establishing Davis as an important figure in late-twentieth century and contemporary literature. We are interested in original and innovative approaches to any aspect of Davis’s work. Among other fields we’d be interested to see contributions on:
Gender and sexuality
The body and medical humanities
Writing institutions and networks (the academy, publishing, poetry circles)
Davis, postmodernism (and after)
Contemporary translation theory
Life writing /autofiction /autobiography
Archival projects based on the newly opened Lydia Davis Papers at Columbia University
Contributors will develop their chapters for the collection at a two-day workshop at the University of York in July 2023 (exact date tbc). Researchers from any career stage are welcome. Abstracts (300 words max) and a brief author bio should be sent to Dr Lola Boorman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Julie Tanner (email@example.com) by 1st February 2023.