About

On 23 October 2015, Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Literature will host the first academic conference to focus on the writing of the highly acclaimed American author, Siri Hustvedt.

A writer of increasing cultural and critical significance, Siri Hustvedt has written six novels and a considerable body of non-fiction, including essays, academic papers, lectures and autobiographical works.

Birkbeck’s conference takes its title from her most recent book of essays, Living, Thinking, Looking (2012), which showcases her wide range of multidisciplinary interests. These include gender identity, visual art, feminism, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, philosophy and literature.

Hustvedt’s fiction reflects her deep interest in the intersecting zones of individual perception, identity and memory. She is particularly interested in the philosopher Martin Buber’s idea of ‘the Between’ – what Sigmund Freud terms the Tummelplatz [playground] and DW Winnicott calls the ‘potential or transitional space’: a zone of transference bisecting consciousness and unconsciousness which sees a dialogic interplay of individual identities, perspectives and ideas.

This conference will give delegates the opportunity to examine Hustvedt’s unique contribution to contemporary literature, in particular her commitment to developing deeper dialogue and understanding between literature and the life sciences. Hustvedt’s interdisciplinary approach to fiction, with particular reference to hermeneutics, intertextuality and the dialogic imagination, will also form a major component part of the conference.

We are particularly that Siri Hustvedt will be in attendance throughout the day, and has been invited to give a reading and answer questions at the close of the event.

Topics under discussion:

Literature and the life sciences
Hermeneutics and intersubjectivity
Narrative, memory and the imagination
Perception and phenomenology
Ekphrasis and visual art in literature
Trauma narratives
Contemporary American literature and culture

Living, Thinking, Looking will take place on 23 October 2015 (9.30-7pm) in the Keynes Library at 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck, London.

Confirmed keynote speakers

Hubert Zapf, Professor and Chair of American Literature, University of Augsburg, Germany

Christine Marks, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College (City University of New York).

James Peacock, Lecturer in English and American literature at Keele University and author of Brooklyn Fictions.

Siri Hustvedt, author

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