Cfp: Short Forms and Adolescence – University of Angers, June 19-21, 2019

The concept of adolescence, which emerged in a 19th-century occidental context, has evolved towards the birth of “the teenage group as a specific age in life” (C. Cannard, 2012). Several research projects have dealt with the cultural landscape of adolescents (a broader term than “teenager”, both of which are worth exploring), yet the specific articulations of adolescence and short forms have mostly remained uncharted. Moreover, while academic research on short forms and childhood has been carried out, these forms have rarely been addressed in the context of young adulthood.

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CFP: 5th ENSFR conference: Short Fiction as Humble Fiction: 17-18-19 October 2019 – Montpellier

Call for Papers is now open for “Short Fiction as Humble Fiction“, a conference organised by EMMA (Etudes Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone) with ENSFR (European Network for Short Fiction Research) on 17-18-19 October 2019 at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France. Keynote speakers: Elke D’hoker (K.U. Leuven, Belgium) and Ann-Marie Einhaus (Northumbria University, UK)


The title of this conference may sound like a provocative statement. It may suggest a definition of the genre as a minor one, as has too often been the case in the history of the short story. Yet the conference has another purpose altogether. We would like to reverse the perspective and claim short fiction not exactly as a minor genre, but as a humble one. As such, what can short fiction do that the novel cannot? What can it better convey? We suggest to use the concept of the ‘humble’ as a critical tool that may help reframe and redefine short fiction, a notoriously elusive genre. How do short story writers deal with humble subjects – humble beings (the poor, the marginal, the outcasts, the disabled, etc.) and the non-human (animals, plants, objects), the ordinary, the everyday, the domestic, the mundane, the prosaic? How do they draw attention to what tends to be disregarded, neglected or socially invisible (Le Blanc) and how do they play with attention and inattention (Gardiner)? How do they contribute to an ethics and a politics of consideration (Pelluchon)? What rhetorical and stylistic devices do they use? What happens when they broach humble topics with humble tools, a bare, minimal style, for instance? How does the humble form of the short story – its brevity – fit humble topics? Does it paradoxically enhance them? Does the conjunction of the two give the short story a minor status or can it be empowering? In other words, should the humble be regarded as a synonym of ‘minor’ or as a quality and a capability (Nussbaum)?

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CFP: Special Issue of ILLI: “Experiments in short fiction: between genre and media/La brièveté et l’expériment: entre genre et media”, eds Elke D’hoker and Bart Van den Bossche

Short narrative texts have a long and ancient lineage in the Western literary tradition: from ancient folk tales and myths over fables and novellas to short stories and flash fiction in recent times. Over the course of the centuries, short fictional texts have formed genres and traditions with a remarkable stability, yet at the same time they frequently have been the locus of experimentation, border crossings and generic hybridity, often in tandem with the spread of media and the development of new contexts of publication and dissemination. In modern literature, it suffices to think of the importance of short fiction for the development of fantastic literature, the illustrated prose poems of the Decadents, the short fiction experiments in early 20th-century avant-garde periodicals, or the short stories dramatized for radio in the mid-twentieth century. In recent years, the arrival of new media – websites, blogs, twitter and facebook – have similarly given rise to new experiments in short fiction. Hyper fiction, twitter fiction, microfiction, and nanofiction are only some of the forms that have been developed in response to these new media. Continue reading “CFP: Special Issue of ILLI: “Experiments in short fiction: between genre and media/La brièveté et l’expériment: entre genre et media”, eds Elke D’hoker and Bart Van den Bossche”

CFP: Innovation and Experiment in Contemporary Irish Fiction – University of Leuven – 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2018

Since the turn of the twentieth-century, Irish fiction has seen innovation and experimentation on many different fronts. Many novelists have pushed the boundaries of the novel form and also the Irish short story is being rewritten along new lines. It is in this respect telling that the Goldsmiths Prize for innovative fiction has, since its inception in 2013, already been awarded to three Irish novelists and that many other Irish writers have won major prizes such as the Booker Prize, the Costa Award, and the BBC short story award. To get a sense of the variety of innovation and experimentation that is going on in Irish fiction at the moment, think of the re-kindling of (post)modernist experiment by Eimer McBride, Mike McCormack and Caitriona Lally; the extraordinary take of ordinary life by Sara Baume, Colm Tóibín, Donal Ryan, and Claire-Louise Bennett; the play with genre conventions in the work of Claire Kilroy, John Banville, and Anne Enright; the powerful re-invention of the historical novel by Lia Mills, Sebastian Barry, and Mary Morrissy; or the darkly comic tales of Irish life on the part of Kevin Barry, Lisa McInerney, Keith Ridgway and Paul Murray. In the short story too, formal experimentation and innovation can be found in the work of a new generation of Irish writers: Danielle McLoughlin, Lucy Caldwell, Mary Costello, and Colin Barrett have exploited the conventions of the traditional Irish realist story to suit their own thematic ends, while writers like Jan Carson, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Roisin O’Donnell and June Caldwell combine the realist story with magical, folkloric or fantastic elements to tell tales about contemporary Dublin and Belfast life.

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New publication on George Saunders’ Pastoralia

George Saunders’ Pastoralia: Bookmarkedby Charles HoldeferNew York: Ig Publishing  (ISBN-13: 978-1632460639; $14.95 paperback; £10.89 ; €13.11)
George Saunders’ 2000 short story collection, Pastoralia, is an exaggerated and darkly humorous satire on American life at the turn of the twenty-first century, merging the spirit of James Thurber with the world of the Simpsons. In his entry in Ig’s acclaimed Bookmarked series, award-winning author Charles Holdefer addresses how this collection, and the writing of Saunders, influenced his journey as an author.

CFP: Fulgurances: The Fleeting Nature of the Short Form – Angers 18-20 April

(NOTE: the deadline for proposals has been extended to the 21st of January)

This event is the latest in a series of workshops and symposiums that have been organized in 2016 and 2017 by the University of Angers and the University of Nantes for the FOBrALC project, and indicates a growing interest for short forms research in the newly formed conglomerate of Loire Valley and Brittany Universities, France.

The concept of brevity is, of course, not necessarily synonymous with shortness, and the question of the relationship between short forms and time deserves more critical attention.

In the concept of fleetingness, time is seemingly unhinged. Between the unchangeable time of the maxim, the immediateness of the aphorism, the instantaneity of the fleeting image that, once retransmitted, “erases the trace of time”, the ephemeral time of performances (land-art, photos posted on Instagram, news briefs, news flashes…), precise time that shrinks, and/or extends into duration (diaries, Facebook posts, tweets, poetry collections), the fragmented time of television series proposing a story through a series of “micro-narratives” or the repetitive temporality of story loops, the concept of fleetingness creates a new dynamic in the short form. We propose to examine the poetics of fleetingness or even its ethics. We could consider, for example, photographic shots stolen by paparazzi or taken during natural catastrophes, or even demonstration banners or websites that overflow with maxims for our modern times. The diversity of these practices leads us to examine the strengths as well as the weaknesses of short forms: their effectiveness and moral relevance as well as the question of sustainability or long term conservation.

Perhaps the idea of fleetingness might also reveal the danger inherent to short forms, that of the unfinished, the risk of irrelevance or nonsense, or even of incomplete reception. It might also generate in short forms the force of shock, as laconic, lapidary bursts could serve as proof of semantic and semiotic effectiveness, and also as a promise of sustainability and conservation.


The notions of brevity and fleetingness could also be studied in association with the following:

  1. Interconnected concepts:
  • The immediate, instantaneous, ephemeral
  • Intensity, violence: explosion, shock, impact
  • Tone and style: laconic, lapidary, dry, brusque, aggressive; changes in style brought about by changes in form (email, twitter…)
  • Mysticism: revelation; myths and the sacred
  • Creation and its energies: dazzling, overflowing
  • Fragmentation, the relationship between the complete and the incomplete, the inexpressible
  • Possible contradictions: finesse vs. coarseness, concentration vs. reduction, density vs lightness, the ephemeral vs. the sustainable

2. Artistic Forms

  •  Performances, land-art, street-art, bandes dessinées, comic strips, flashmobs, photography…
  •   Literary short forms: Flash-fiction, nano-fiction, embedded stories, anecdotes, poetry…
  •   Scenic and audiovisual short forms: theatre, cliff-hangers, television micro-narratives

3. Practices, receptions and uses: zapping, “teasers,” concentration/selection (abstracts, extracts, summaries), stylisation, synthesis, modes of knowledge and comprehension of the world, culture, of reality through short forms (pedagogical, therapeutic, and scientific uses), caricature, stereotype, etc.

4. Forms of expression, of communication and information : manifestoes, slogans, posters, news briefs, media reports, promotional speeches, trailers …

In order to better understand the complex and multiform concept of the “short form” through the prism of temporality, we hope to have a wide-ranging interdisciplinary approach in areas as varied as literature, history, philosophy, information sciences, linguistics, didactics, sociology, medicine, psychology, the arts, performance, the economics of creative practice, etc.

Proposals for papers in English or in French (350-500 words) should be sent to Karima Thomas ( and Cécile Meynard (, along with a brief CV by 7 January 2018. The scientific committee will examine proposals and send notice of acceptance by 25 January at the latest.


Jennifer J. Smith, The American Short Story Cycle (Edinburgh UP, 2017)

The American Short Story Cycle spans two centuries to tell the history of a genre that includes both major and marginal authors, from Washington Irving through William Faulkner to Jhumpa Lahiri. The short story cycle rose and proliferated because its form compellingly renders the uncertainties that emerge from the twin pillars of modern America culture: individualism and pluralism. Short story cycles reflect how individuals adapt to change, whether it is the railroad coming to the small town in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) or social media revolutionizing language in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010). Combining new formalism in literary criticism with scholarship in American Studies, this book gives a name and theory to the genre that has fostered the aesthetics of fragmentation, as well as recurrence, that characterise fiction today.


The American Short Story: New Horizons – Johannes-Gutenberg Universität Mainz, 5-7 October 2017

ENSFR is pleased to be involved as collaborating organisation in the conference “The American Short Story: New Horizons”, the second annual conference of the Society for the Study of the American Short Story, organised by Oliver Scheiding at the University of Mainz. Plenary speakers are Lorraine López (Vanderbilt University) and Kasia Boddy (University of Cambridge). The full programme can be found here.