Loyola University Chicago is seeking abstract proposals for a day-long event featuring critically-acclaimed fiction author George Saunders. In light of the upcoming softcover version of Lincoln in the Bardo (winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction) and the recent release of George Saunders: Critical Essays (Palgrave, 2017), Loyola’s Hank Center, in collaboration with other university communities, seeks to explore, interrogate, and celebrate Saunders’s work.
Topics include the dynamic link between humor and humanity, metaphysics and the mundane, fiction and faith, literary representations of liminal spaces, compassion and tenderness, Chicago culture, Abe Lincoln and “civil warring,” and American politics in all of its convulsive contemporary forms. This event especially focuses on bringing these themes into conversation with Catholic and Buddhist thought, the aesthetics of the transcendent, and the state of moral agency in the late modern age through the lens of Saunders’s work.
The conference will feature traditional conference panels interspersed with creative expressions and responses to the conference themes. The event will also include a morning address from George Saunders, a visit from the students at 826CHI, and a public evening event which includes a reading from Saunders– along with a set of surprises that will no doubt please the gathered crowd.
Given the size and nature of the conference, we are open to abstract submissions covering a wide range of topics and formats surrounding George Saunders, from traditional academic conference papers to creative interpretations of conference themes. Throughout the day, panel discussions will focus on specific aspects of George Saunders’s work as they relate to topics such as Chicago as writing context, ghosts and unresolved conflict, serious comedy and grim humor, and the nature of transcendence/spirituality in the author’s work,