Love Takes Risks: The Poetics of Contemporary Small-Press Fiction

Symposium at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Saturday 2 March 2019

‘… the indefinable makes for too big a risk. And risk is where small presses come in. Small presses are created for the love of books, and love takes risks.’

– Neil Griffiths, Founder of Republic of Consciousness Prize

*UPDATE: we have extended the deadline for abstracts from Friday 7 December to Friday 14 December 2018.*

In 2018 the University of East Anglia (UEA), through our in-house UEA Publishing Project, became the academic sponsor of the Republic of Consciousness Prize, which celebrates achievement in small-press fiction. To mark this step in the Prize’s growth, UEA will host a symposium on Saturday 2 March 2019, bringing together a variety of papers to imagine a poetics of contemporary small-press fiction. The symposium is organised by Olivia Heal and Rosalind Brown in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing.

This symposium inquires into the risks, formal and political, taken both by the presses and within the pages of the literature they publish. Frequently experimental, marginal, or in translation, and resisting conventional genre distinctions, small-press fiction attests to a literary arena that subverts the codes of the mainstream. We will explore the tendencies of this arena, bringing together literary critical papers on small-press publications, papers on the wider cultural phenomenon of the small press, and papers which use small-press fiction as a lens through which to examine the contemporary literary landscape.

A plenary in the form of a conversation between authors Eley Williams (Attrib., winner of RoC Prize 2018) and David Hayden (Darker with the Lights On, shortlist 2018) will follow the symposium; the day will culminate in the announcement of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist.

Call for papers

We invite (15-minute) papers and creative or creative-critical contributions on any aspect of contemporary small-press fiction, including but not restricted to:

  • Formal tendencies, formal resistances
  • Genre-bending, genre-blurring
  • Autofiction, autotheory, the lyric essay, contemporary modernism
  • The present tense novel, the present day novel
  • Prize culture
  • The role of small presses in the current publishing industry/market
  • Small presses as locus for innovation, as space for critique
  • Case studies of small presses
  • The cultural and economic operation of small presses

We stipulate that literary papers are on contemporary texts published originally by small presses, where ‘small’ means, loosely, a non-mainstream publishing house, and where ‘contemporary’ refers to texts published since 2000.

Please send proposals (of no more that 300 words) to Olivia Heal and Ros Brown at by Friday 14 December 2018 (extended from Friday 7th). You can also download the call for papers as a PDF.

Delegate booking for the symposium will open in January 2019.

Follow us on Twitter @LoveTakesRisks.

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