Among the prevalent intersections between oppositional perspectives on the world in McCarthy’s corpus is the space between mind and matter, and, more specifically, the liminal zone between the interiority of character psychology and the exteriority of the American wilderness. With a special nod to the ten-year anniversary of The Road and its reception, there are the precarious boundaries between order and disorder, life and death, meaning and nothing, but also McCarthy’s transition—to many the most scandalous—from writer’s writer to Oprah elect and Hollywood insider. These spaces between worlds—whether disciplinary, institutional, aesthetic, or existential—can be described in many ways. Chief among them are the typical McCarthian notions of ‘crossroads’—connoting at once a convergence and the place of choice between alternatives, that is, the ideal (or illusion) of deciding on one’s own fate—and of ‘transgression’—the crossing of a normative boundary, as many of his maladjusted characters do, but also the place of choice in the making. McCarthy’s work is a continuous engagement with the former notion of a crossroads, the conflict between agency and determinism, and since the 1990s he has increasingly blurred the boundaries between literary and genre fiction. We could also say, he has transgressed these boundaries as part of the constant re-invention of his unique style as a novelist.
The conference especially seeks contributions that explore productive tensions, clashes, crossovers, thresholds, transitions, and transgressions in Cormac McCarthy’s work, but other approaches to McCarthy will also be considered.
The conference will be held from July 7-9, 2016, at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin. It is co-organized with the University of Cologne, the University of Paderborn, and the Cormac McCarthy Society. Please send abstracts of approximately 300 words and a brief author bio to CormacMcCarthy2016@gmail.com by November 15, 2015. Please feel free to email us with inquiries. [Read More]