Friday, April 27, 2012


This is a particularly fine hinge on a set of doors near the elevator on Floor 5 of the Washington Duke hotel.  It can also act as a neat metaphor for this blog, riffing off the way in which Amitav Ghosh spoke briefly about blogging during this afternoon's keynote address, comparing a blog entry to a Chinese picture, in which the word and the image can't be separated.

That being said, I greatly wanted to take issue with him for laying into a sentence that I think I'm responsible for in the program, and that I certainly used in my Presidential Address (well, my short presidential intro-speechy-thingy, the main point of which was to praise Nancy Armstrong to the skies for all she's done in promoting this conference and the coming-into-being of the Society for Novel Studies) - that is, a claim that "the novel is the dominant literary genre of our age."  By "literary," I meant "print form" - in true spirit-of-Williams-and-Hoggart etc form I include The Hunger Games and Twilight and Harry Potter - not, necessarily, the high literature, or the "literature with a claim to being called literature" that he seemed to think (somewhat contentiously) is, in its fictional form, in decline.  He'd propose the ascendancy of the memoir - true, but surely not supplanting the novel?  He seemed to mean "the middle to highbrow novel that sells commercially," which isn't quite my understanding of the genre - even if it is, of course, what most people have been talking about to date.  All the same, he was a hugely engaging speaker - even if I think I'm on one side of the literature hinge, and he on the other.

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