Participants sought for Updike panel at ALA-Santa Fe symposium

Drury Plaza Hotel, Santa Fe

The John Updike Society will hold their 7th biennial conference in Tucson, Ariz. in the fall of 2023, but there’s an opportunity for some scholars to go to a different part of the American Southwest a year earlier.

After a two-year hiatus, the ALA will host a fall symposium in Santa Fe, N.M. in October 2022 on “The Historical Imagination in American Literature,” with Deborah Clarke (Arizona State University) serving as keynote speaker.

The Updike Society has been invited to sponsor a session, and a natural topic for papers or a discussion-based panel would seem to be “The Backdrop of History and Imagined Significance in John Updike’s Fiction,” which allows presenters to explore some of the many historical references in the novels and short stories and explicate their connections to Updike’s themes and narrative action.

The symposium will take place October 27-29 at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe. The conference fee is $175, and rooms are $135 per night. Santa Fe has a population of 87,505 but is part of the metropolitan area of Albuquerque/Santa Fe/Las Vegas, which has a population of 1.2 million. Santa Fe is known for the arts and for its connections to indigenous people.

As for the topic, conference director Olivia Carr Edenfield offers these thoughts-as-prompts:

Hotel lobby

“The Historical Imagination in American Literature:  What does it mean to envision and embody history in American writing?  How does a “usable past” shape our fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction? What philosophical, psychological, and political factors shape how writers look at a moment of time?  How do regional differences shape our historical perspectives? How do race, class, and gender influence the perception and presentation of historical realities? How important is the historical novel to our culture? How do the alternate histories of speculative fiction transform our understanding of time? 

Three papers and a moderator are needed for a traditional panel; five participants and a moderator make up a discussion-based roundtable. The direction the Society takes will be shaped by the response.

Participation is not limited to members of the Updike Society. Send proposals and expressions of interest to James Plath,

Artisan Market, Palace of the Governors, downtown Santa Fe

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