The fourth ENSFR conference will take place in Lille, France. Proposals are invited (in French or English) that explore the relation between short fiction and desire across different periods and genres, including flash fiction, the novella and short story cycles. As a concentrated and intense form of prose writing, short fiction lends itself very well to representations of desire. As Sarah Hall says, “The form is very good at unzipping the mind’s fly.” Think of Katherine Mansfield’s “Bliss” (1918): “For the first time in her life Bertha Young desired her husband;”or of J. G. Ballard’s “The Subliminal Man” (1963), where hypnotic techniques of advertising turn the desire for consumer items into an irresistible compulsion. The short story form itself may be driven by desire as a structuring principle, the desire for instance of the reader to explore its gaps and mysteries. In Towards the End (1985), for instance, John Gerlach suggests that closure may be an object of desire. Several critics have analysed desire and its objects in the novel. Peter Brooks speaks of “a dynamics of desire animating narrative and the construal of its meanings”, René Girard’s concept of “mimetic desire” suggests that a human instinct for imitation is what drives people. Do these ideas also apply to the short story or do desire and the short story interact in a different way?Literature, religion and art began with objects of desire and have never abandoned the theme. From Helen of Troy and the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden via Novalis’s blue flower to the throne of Westeros, numerous examples spring immediately to mind, and if the ten commandments tell people not to covet anything that belongs to their neighbours, this surely implies that they are highly likely to do just that.
Although we expect most proposals to be individual, panel proposals of three closely related papers will also be considered. Proposals (250-300 words) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 15th December 2017.