This one-day conference seeks to explore understandings of magical realism in the 21st Century.
It aims to interrogate the category of 'magical realism' through an examination of its conventions, form and features, as well as its relationship with political, historical, and cultural contexts. There are no chronological or geographical boundaries for the conference and we welcome proposals from literature, history, cultural studies, film and screen studies, art, and social science in the hope that this will be an interdisciplinary conference with a transnational scope.
It has been over twenty years since the publication of Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community (1995), a collection of seminal essays which challenged the perception of magical realism as a form strictly reserved for Latin American writers. The collection instead repositioned magical realism as an international form used by writers from across the globe and to depict a variety of historical contexts. However, Netflix’s critically acclaimed Narcos (2015), a biopic of Pablo Escobar, firmly attributes magical realism to the Latin American context once again, opening with the statement:
"Magical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe. There is a reason magical realism was born in Colombia".
Taking this as an indication that the debates about the origins, politics, and aesthetics of magical realism have not yet been resolved, we ask: how should texts featuring the supernatural, marvellous, and magical be categorised and understood today?
How have debates evolved over the last two decades, both within and outside the field of literary studies? Can we now consider magical realism a global form or is the term only applicable to specific texts and contexts? Where do the generic and formal boundaries lie between texts dealing with folk magic and belief systems, and works by authors such as Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allende, and Günter Grass, whose novels form a firmly established canon of magical realism? What divides and unites such disparate texts? With these questions in mind, this one-day conference seeks to explore understandings of magical realism in the twenty-first century.
It aims to interrogate the category of ‘magical realism’ through an examination of its conventions, forms, and features as well as its relationship with political, historical, and cultural contexts.
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