Coetzee & the Archive: Inaugural Conference

“… I have been through the letters and diaries. What Coetzee writes there cannot be trusted, not as a factual record – not because he was a liar but because he was a fictioneer”

— J. M. Coetzee, Summertime

An upcoming international conference is offering scholars and enthusiasts a chance to engage with J.M. Coetzee’s work in new and interesting ways. Over the course of three days, the event will include a single day CHASE funded archival training workshop, and will feature a host of leading scholars in the field. Significantly, the Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee will be appearing in person to give a reading.

About the Conference

79781-coetzee_large4-6 October 2017 • Senate House, University of London

What does it mean to be a fictioneer? And what precisely is the relationship between the truth of J. M. Coetzee’s works, especially with regard to the life-story of the fictionalised memoirs, and the factual record that lies behind them? How might such a self-reflexive body of work impact upon our reading of archival materials – manuscripts, drafts, letters and diaries?

The recent consolidation in 2012 of the Coetzee Collection at the world famous Harry Ransom Center (HRC), University of Texas – Austin, offers an exciting opportunity for scholars to address anew such fascinating, enthralling, and intractable questions.

This inaugural conference on Coetzee’s archive invites speakers to engage with both the general topic of the archive in Coetzee Studies and with the specific and voluminous materials that have travelled to the HRC to date.   What might be considered their ‘origins’, their ‘original homes’?  Where were they written, drafted, published, otherwise housed?  Where, in other words, do archives ‘begin’, and where might they take us?  Can we pinpoint such formations, and what are the implications of such geographies and materialities, theoretically and/or empirically, for the story of a writing life?

Touching upon disciplines as varied as the life sciences, theology and philosophy, South African history and politics, canonical literary intertexts, translation, and engagements with other artistic forms (visual; filmic; sound), Coetzee’s richly curated archive serves as a springboard for further investigations into his published writing and collaborative work.  With its numerous multi-lingual and multi-modal resources, it invites a significant expansion of critical scholarship, and asks us to consider questions of wider artistic practices, approach and methodology, genre, theory and creativity.

More Information

You can find out more about the conference (and reserve tickets for the event) at the following addresses:

Please direct any other queries to the organisers Marc Farrant and Kai Easton at coetzeeandthearchive@gmail.com

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