Modernism: an evening of debate with Will Self and Iain Sinclair

Monday 12 November 2012
7pm - 9pm
Event type Lecture
Location Newton Room, Hamilton Centre
Booking Required? No
In this public event, the writer Iain Sinclair will explain his own fictive methods, before discussing the topic with Professor Will Self and answering questions from the audience.

Doors and bar open from 6.30pm

Iain Sinclair is one of the most radical writers in England today: the author of numerous novels, collections of poetry, and non-fiction works, he is an uncompromising proponent of literary experimentation, as well as being the doyen of English psycho-geographical writing.

In this public event, Sinclair will give a short address on his own fictive methods, with special reference to his 1994 novel Radon Daughter. He will then be in conversation with Will Self, after which there will be time for questions from the floor and further discussion.

Professor Will Self explains the foundations of this lecture series

"Frustrated by literary conventions of the naturalistic/realist form that seemed increasingly, to me, to represent an ideological standpoint resistant to modernity in all its forms, for my new novel, Umbrella, published by Bloomsbury this August, I went back in time in order to discover an appropriate form for a work vitally concerned with the present and the future.

In the process I found myself preoccupied, once again, by how it is that not just literature but other art forms as well have retreated from the high-water mark of experimentation typified by the great Modernist works of the early years of the 20th century. In place of these powerful engagements with the nature of the individual and the collective in an era of radical change - technological, social, political and aesthetic – we have instead a retrenchment: on the one hand the reinstitution of profoundly conservative narrative fiction, and on the other the breaking-up of the literary world into sectional interests and commercial values; if you like, a sort of identity genre writing.

Critical theorists wishing to parcel up subject areas so that they can be exegetically mined have dubbed any innovative fiction of the past four decades, ‘Postmodernism’, but really this tells us nothing much about very little, and reduces literary experimentation to the status of merely another genre.

In this series of events, and in conjunction with a number of fine and enquiring minds, I wish to investigate what happened to literary and associated Modernisms, why it is that prose fiction - once regarded as the foremost of the arts - has fallen into such a slumbrous state, and whether the answer is to be found not in literature itself, but in the wider world that it attempts to depict."

Page last updated: Friday 05 October 2012