BNS 2022

This year’s Brandeis Novel Symposium, on Friday October 14, 2022, will take place in person at the Mandel Center for the Humanities and will also be livestreamed. See our Program page for the full schedule.

Welcome to the Brandeis Novel Symposium. Each year, this one-day conference has a dual focus: both on a particular novel and on theoretical and scholarly questions raised by the novel more generally. Last year’s symposium raised theoretical and critical questions about empire and the novel through Graham Greene’s The Quiet American; 2020 thought about settler colonialism via Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House2019 was on the graphic novel; the 2018 symposium was about science fiction and centered on Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem; the inaugural event in 2017 was on Karl Ove Knausgard’s My Struggle.

This year’s featured text is D’Arcy McNickle’s The Surrounded (1936). Written by an author of Cree-Métis heritage and an enrolled member of the Salish Kootenai nation whose career led from the Flathead Reservation in Montana to “lost generation” Paris and New Deal-era Washington, The Surrounded stands “between” in multiple senses: between its Indigenous protagonist’s tribal culture and the colonizers’ world; between traditions of Native autobiography and the novels of the Native American Renaissance; and between the forces of assimilation and self-determination. As in previous years, our papers and discussions will investigate the central text as well as the broader theoretical, formal, and historical issues it raises, including sovereignty, survivance, modernism(s), race, regionalism(s), genre, the management of tribal land and resources, and dimensions of settler colonialism including religion and education. Presenters may also situate The Surrounded within the arc of McNickle’s career, Native American cultural and literary production, the evolution of federal Indian Policy, the history and culture of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and other tribal nations, and the development of academic disciplines including Anthropology and Native American Studies.

As always, we encourage but do not require you to read The Surrounded in advance of the conference. If you are not a graduate or undergraduate student, we encourage you to buy it at an independent local bookstore. If you are a graduate or undergraduate student who is not reading The Surrounded as part of a class this semester, we are pleased to offer you a free copy of the novel. Email for details after registering.

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