‘Beyond Time: Reading Eleanor Dark in 2020’ CFP

Hosted by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature

1-2 May 2020 | Sydney and Blue Mountains (NSW, Australia) 

Given Eleanor Dark’s signature experiment with temporality in the mid- century Australian novel, it is tempting to cite the timeliness of this call to address her rich body of work. However, this invitation is not merely timely, it is overdue. Overtime, urgent, arriving beyond and in excess of the appointed or expected time, we are more than ready for an expression of sustained and specialised work on Eleanor Dark.

Although Dark enjoyed critical and popular success in her lifetime, her key purchase in public memory has been anchored to her historical trilogy, which commenced with The Timeless Land in 1941. Her more recent critical profile has been generated in relation to assessments of her engagement with modernist aesthetics, and this has had the effect of securing her position as one of the pre-eminent Australian modernist novelists. Now, new critical frameworks offer exciting possibilities for reading Dark, so we invite participants to draw on a range of perspectives to rethink Dark’s body of work: its modernist mappings of place, time, body and/or self; its negotiations of literary value and readerships; its avant garde engagement; its mapping of gender and politics; its settler-colonial vision; its potential for decolonial thought; or the futurity of its archival re-imaginings. Critical frameworks may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • new modernisms;
  • transnational literary studies;
  • ecocritical studies;
  • decolonial methodologies;
  • literary, book and cultural history;
  • literary feminisms

Conference details
The first day of the symposium will be held at UNSW (Kensington) and will include papers on Eleanor Dark’s work. This will be followed by an optional day in the Blue Mountains on Saturday 2 May, when interested participants can choose to partake in visits and walks related to the Darks, assisted by scholars and archivists and including a visit to Varuna (details to be confirmed).

Submission of abstracts
We invite abstracts for 20-minute papers exploring key aspects of Dark’s work. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and accompanied by a biographical note. Please send your abstract to Dr Fiona Morrison ([email protected]), including DARK at the start of the email title, by 28 February 2020.

Conference organisers
Dr Fiona Morrison (ASAL President), UNSW; Dr Brigid Rooney, University of Sydney; Dr Melinda Cooper, University of Sydney; Dr Meg Brayshaw, University of Sydney.