Contemporary Fiction and Everyday Life

Tuesday 19 February 2013, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Neal Alexander (Nottingham)

Ordinary/Everyday/Quotidian speaker series

The character of British fiction in the twenty-first century might appear to be overwhelmingly conditioned by the eventfulness of contemporary history, particularly through its preoccupations with terror and trauma.

This paper will offer a partial corrective to such views, turning attention to representations of the mundane, the ordinary, the non-events of everyday life in three recent novels: Tom McCarthy’s Remainder (2005), James Kelman’s Mo said she was quirky (2012), and Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs (2010).

In each case, the focus of discussion will be upon the problems of attending to, and representing, the everyday, which has been defined variously in terms of its ‘insignificance’ (Blanchot), its ‘non-appearance’ (Nancy), and its ‘taken-for-grantedness’ (Felski). By foregrounding such representational problems at the level of form and style as well as content, the texts discussed demonstrate the democratic politics of literature, levelling distinctions between the world of art and that of ordinary, prosaic life.

This workshop will develop a more focused exploration of the aesthetic, ethical, and political challenges of representing everyday life in contemporary fiction through close readings of Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs (Ch. 1) and Rita Felski’s essay ‘The Invention of Everyday Life’.

The lecture will be followed by a workshop on Wednesday 20th February at 1pm in the Treehouse.

More about the Ordinary/Everyday/Quotidian research strand

Location: Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome

Email: benjamin.madden@york.ac.uk