After all the excitement of the first day of the conference, the second day seemed a bit quieter for me.
I started the day with a panel on flash fiction and was able to pick up of few pieces of information of that sub-genre. Philip Coleman’s paper on Örkény Istvan’s One Minute Stories was particularly interesting and made me want to look closer at this author I had never heard of (which I have not done yet, shame!).
This was followed by a panel on “Place, Politics, and Postcolonialism”. M. Y. Alam discussed the conditions of productions of his first story. His argument was based on a statement that all writings depend on the condition of production and it was interesting to follow the process he underwent. I hope what he said will come back to me when I will read his stories (you might expect a review of one of them at some stage as he is one of the authors collected in the book published by Route I was given).
The afternoon started with a plenary session on Alice Munro’s “Passion” and the participants included some of the leading names in short story theory: Charles E. May, Michael Trussler, Per Winther, Michael Toolan and Susan Lohafer. Each of them presented their reading of this recent story by Munro. Unfortunately, I had not read the story and did not fully appreciate the discussion. I was a bit disappointed, but had only myself to blame for that.
The following panel I attended was again organised by the Margaret Atwood Society. Alice Ridout presented a most interesting paper on Atwood’s latest collection, Moral Disorder. There has not been much work published on this collection and it was great to be able to hear someone discussing it. She focused on the relationship between time and space in the collection, noting that time is mapped onto places and that the collection represents a “cartography of Nell’s life”. The ideas she foregrounded were most interesting and I hope she will some day publish an article on it. Ted Sheckels presented a paper discussing how stories can be misread. He focused on “The Man from Mars” and the representation of the ethnic other and explained how students might see the story as “condoning othering and racial rejection”. It gave me much to think about: how we read and interpret texts, but also how Atwood’s writings tend to show in order to critique, rather than imposing views on the reader, thus running the risk to be misinterpreted. Finally, Mairin Barney also gave a talk on “The Man from Mars”, in order to illustrate how Atwood’s stories are useful demagogic tools for First-Year English students.
In the evening, there was a reading by Sandra Cisneros. However, I was unable to go as I had a paper to finalise. I had decided to get a good night sleep, but, as always, it took me much longer than I had planned and I did not get back from the internet café to my hostel until late. Moreover, when i got back a little surprise awaited me (you can read about it here), which delayed my sleeping time even further. I was thus stressed and exhausted when I finally hit my bed on the eve of the big day…