I will be attending the 11th International Conference on the Short Story in Toronto, Canada this month, speaking on a Plenary Session panel entitled “Theoretical Approaches to Alice Munro’s “Passion” with other short story theorists and critics. Michael Trussler, University of Regina, will speak on “Melancholy and Metaphysical Solitude in ‘Passion’.” Per Winther, University of Oslo will speak on “Munro’s Handling of Perspective and Descriptive Detail in ‘Passion.’” Michael Toolan, University of Birmingham, will speak on “Engagement Via Emotional Heightening in ‘Passion’.” Susan Lohafer, from University of Iowa, will speak on “Entering ‘Passion’ Empirically.” The topic of my own presentation is: “The Short Story’s Way of Meaning in ‘Passion’.”
You can find the program for the four-day conference at: http://www.yorku.ca/shortcon/
During the month of June, I plan to post blogs on my own presentation on Munro’s story “Passion,” and on the events at the conference, including summaries of the other panel presentations on the story. If you are interested in following along and making your own comments, the New Yorker version of “Passion” is available at http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/03/22/040322fi_fiction
The story is in her 2004 collection Runaway.
The Society for the Study of the Short Story has been around for a number of years. I have made presentations at nine of the eleven International Conferences. It is the one conference I try to attend regularly, not only because it focuses on the area of my special interest, but because it is the only chance I get to see old friends from around the world.
The conference, which is held every two years, began twenty-two years ago in Paris, France. Since then, it has been held in New Orleans, Lisbon, Cork, and several times at the University of Iowa, home of the famous Iowa Writers Workshop. What is unique about the conference is that it is not only a platform for literary critics to discuss the short story as a form, it also provides an opportunity for short story writers to read their stories and meet with their most dedicated readers.
Over the years, I have met John Barth, Anne Beattie, Isabelle Allende, Rudolfo Anaya, Ellen Douglas, Francine Prose, Judith Ortiz-Cofer, Leslie Marmon Silko, Amy Tan, Tobias Wolfe, Bharata Mukherjee, Clark Blaise, Edna O’Brien, Richard Ford, and many others.
Writers reading and mingling this June in Toronto include: Robert Olen Butler, Sandra Cisneros, Alistair MacLeod, Margaret Atwood, Helena Maria Viramontes, Olive Senior, Bharata Mukergee, Clark Blaise, and others.
Panels will feature presentations on Canadian short fiction, metafiction and postmodernism, the relationship between short fiction and nonfiction, flash fiction, postcolonialism, Irish short fiction, fairy tale, etc.
One panel title that gave me a laugh and that I will be sure not to miss is:
“Theory and the Short Story: Poe, Charles E. May, and Erich Auerbach”. What a hoot!
I will post some work I have done on my presentation on "Passion" in a few days. I hope you get a chance to read it before then and join with me in a discussion of it.