Welcome to the Brandeis Novel Symposium, an annual one-day conference that holds its second annual meeting Friday April 20, 2018. Each year, the conference will have a dual focus: both on a particular novel and on the theoretical and scholarly questions it raises. This year’s theoretical and critical topics unfold around the question of the speculative genres as they intersect with mainstream, canonical and realist fiction. (If you are interested in last year’s symposium, centered on Karl Ove Knausgard’s My Struggle, click here for last year’s website).
This year, the BNS board has selected The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Schedule of the day.) We are delighted to feature a novel from China that has had tremendous success in the marketplace of “world literature.” The novel has been wildly successful in at home and in translation abroad, garnering praise from critics, leading novelists, and President Obama alike. We selected the first volume of Liu’s remarkable science fiction trilogy as this year’s focus for its capacity to open questions about the relationship between science fiction and “mainstream” fiction, and for the question it raises about genre more generally. We encourage but do not require you to read the novel in advance of the conference: buy a copy at your local bookstore or via this link.
The day will culminate with a lively reception that includes an open discussion of possible future topics and novels for the following year’s event. In addition, a “peripatetic retrospect” is planned the next day: come walk around Walden Pond (meeting at 10 am on the beach) with other symposium participants and share your overnight afterthoughts!
Thanks to the generosity of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the whole day is free, but prior registration is required. You can register for the conference here.
Graduate students from any institution can also sign up for a pre-conference seminar (on a science fiction topic to be determined soon) followed by lunch with the speakers. And this year for the first time there will also be a pair of undergraduate seminars around the novel—one aimed to address students who are science fiction fans and another for those who are excited that a Brandeis conference will be built around a Chinese-language novel.