Art in French fiction since 1900

Date: April 11 – 12, 2011
Venue: University of Nottingham, UK

Keynote speaker: Professor Jean Duffy, University of Edinburgh

In the wake of a number of recent critical studies of the nineteenth-century art novel (including a special issue of French Studies, published in 2007), the University of Nottingham will be organising a conference to examine the various forms and manifestations of visual art in French fiction since 1900. How do writers of fiction respond to the visual arts in their work? To what extent do twentieth-century novels about art borrow from nineteenth-century precedents (such as the ‘big three’ – Le Chef-d’œuvre inconnu, Manette Salomon, and L’Œuvre), and to what extent do they move beyond these narratives of artistic creation and failure, and beyond the central trope of artist and model, to investigate art in new ways? Why are writers attracted to the visual, and to what extent are visual images and prose narratives natural bedfellows? Alongside these questions, the conference will also interrogate the boundaries between art fiction and art criticism, and consider the ways in which fictions of art might help us to understand the visual domain.

The conference will be held at the University of Nottingham on 11 and 12 April 2011. Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers, in English or French, on any aspect of the conference theme, including (but not limited to):

• Fiction about or responding to the visual arts, including cinema
• Visual strategies of writing
• Illustration and the arts of the book
• Biographical fictions and romans à clés about artists

Proposals should be around 250 words in length, and should be sent by 10 September 2010 to: katherine.shingler@nottingham.ac.uk.

A selection of papers presented at the conference will be published in a special issue of Nottingham French Studies.