Sarah Hall published her first novel, Haweswater, in 2002. Since then she has developed into one of the UK’s most protean and quietly acclaimed writers, producing poetry, short fiction and novels in a wide range of genres which are nonetheless bound together by a common style and a common set of preoccupations: wild(er)ness, female sexuality and the deep connection between language, landscape and the body.
Hall’s novels have been nominated for the Booker prize on three occasions and have won a host of other awards; in 2013 she won the BBC National Short Story Award for ‘Mrs Fox’. Her work is regularly reviewed in the British and American press, and, following the publication of The Wolf Border in 2015, has in recent years enjoyed a significant increase in exposure. Yet little scholarly material on Hall’s writing exists, despite its relevance to ongoing concerns within contemporary literary and cultural studies. The complicated legacies of Romanticism; ecocriticism and rewilding; rural poverty and the invisibility of non-metropolitan spaces; social breakdown and the endless reconstitution of political power; the dissolution, renovation and survival of gender norms; the reinvention of subjectivity and the scriptable nature of the body – all are significant preoccupations of the field and features of Hall’s rapidly evolving body of writing.
This two-day conference, hosted by the University of Leuven and organised in association with Gylphi publishing, seeks to develop the scholarly conversation surrounding Hall’s work through an intensive focus on her short stories and novels. It will be attended and feature a reading by Sarah Hall herself, and papers delivered at the conference will be considered for inclusion in an edited collection to be published in Gylphi’s ‘Contemporary Writers’ series.
Topics might include, but are not limited to:
- Romanticism and the ‘post-Romantic’
- The country and the city: agriculture, land ownership and rural labour
- Wilderness and borderlands
- The representation of ‘the North’
- Desire, the body and sexual agency
- Language and poetics
- Art, ekphrasis and aesthetics
- The mixed genres and modes of Hall’s work (pastoral, Gothic, dystopia etc)
- The intertextual dimension of Hall’s writing
- Hall’s relationship with the ‘new nature writing’
- The aesthetics, politics and economics of the short story
This conference is being organised by Dr Elke D’hoker (KU Leuven, Belgium) and Dr Alexander Beaumont (York St John University, UK). It will take place at the Leuven Irish college
Please send a 300-word abstract for a 20-min paper, along with a 100-word biographical note, to Elke D’hoker (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Alexander Beaumont (email@example.com) by Friday 19th January 2018.