Creative Dissonance: Writing Now

Organisers: Alexandra Kingston-Reese and Bryan Radley (English and Related Literature)

What are the aesthetic, affective, and political commitments of writing now? How do today’s writers imagine their own artistic practices? Hardly sentimental, contemporary writers explore lived experiences (quotidian and aesthetic) that frequently negate or ironically undercut the profound, verge on the automatic, and are troubled by dissonant feelings. Nevertheless, many current writers reconcile these anxieties with a concerted critical realignment in understanding artistic sensibility, literary form, and the function of the aesthetic to disturb the way we perceive and reflect on art.

These creative interventions into critical practice in turn reflect an increasing dissonance in literary criticism: no longer satisfied with the strictures of critique, we are being encouraged to adopt deep reading, distant reading, and surface reading; to forgo reading suspiciously in favour of reading generously. Taking inspiration from the formal and affective dissonance so prominent in contemporary writing, the aims of this research strand are therefore twofold: to explore the way that dissonance drives contemporary literary experimentation and to question dissonant new forms of literary criticism.

Forthcoming Events:

Thursday 1 March, 2-3pm, B/S/007, Berrick Saul Building
Spring Term meeting of 'Writing Now' Reading Group. We will consider Amy Hungerford's "On the Period Formerly Known as the Contemporary", 10 years on from its initial publication date. Available from: All welcome. Contact: and 


Man Booker Prize Winner 2013 Eleanor Catton in Conversation  This event has been postponed until the Summer Term. Details will be posted soon. If you booked a free ticket for this event, it will be transferred to the new date.


Writing Now Reading Group
Creative Dissonance's reading group 'Writing Now', meets once a term. Here, we will discuss emergent literary and art criticism on the exigencies of writing now, in conversation with some of the the most significant auto-criticism written by contemporary novelists in recent years. If you would like to join us or would like further information please contact either Alexandra Kingston-Reese ( or Bryan Radley (

Past Events:

Wednesday 29 November, 3-4pm, BS/007, Berrick Saul Building
Autumn Term meeting of 'Writing Now' Reading Group: Giorgio Agamben’s “What is the Contemporary?”: & Theodore Martin’s “The Currency of the Contemporary” (from Postwar | Postmodern — and After eds. Jason Gladstone, Andrew Hoberek, and Daniel Worden):

CModS Postgraduate Workshop with Professor David James (University of Birmingham): 'Uses of Criticism in an Era of Postcritique', Thursday 2nd November 4-5.30pm, BS/007

Inaugural talk by Professor David James (University of Birmingham): 'Consolation's Discrepant Forms', Thursday 2nd November 6pm, The Treehouse