Dusklands at 50

A two day conference to celebrate and reflect on the legacy of J. M. Coetzee’s first published book, DUSKLANDS, which appeared in print in April 1974. This ground-breaking diptych of fictions brought into startling juxtaposition the discontents of Enlightenment discourses in two historical and geographical scenarios: the US in the early 1970s, against the backdrop of the war in Vietnam; and the violent frontier of the Dutch settlement at the Cape in the mid-eighteenth century. 

The conference offers an opportunity to reflect on the electrifying effect the text had on South African, 'Commonwealth', and postcolonial literatures, to consider its afterlives in comparative transnational contexts, and to mark fifty years of Coetzee’s literary career across an extraordinary oeuvre that continues to explore and expand on the formal, thematic, and political investments of his remarkable first book.

Speakers at the conference from institutions in the US (U Penn, Penn State, Wesleyan), UK (Exeter, KCL, York), Italy (Pisa), South Africa (UWC, Rhodes, Free State), Japan (Tokyo), China (Nanjing), and Thailand (Silpakorn), as well as from interstate (Monash, UQ, Sydney, Western Sydney), the University of Adelaide, and Flinders University. 

The conference takes place in the Ingkarni Wardli conference suite from 9am each day on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 May. Thursday’s schedule culminates in a keynote from Prof. Derek Attridge (Emeritus, University of York, UK) at 4.15pm. After Friday’s papers, there will be a free public reading from J. M. Coetzee in the Braggs Lecture Theatre, at 6pm, followed by a reception in the foyer, hosted by the J. M. Coetzee Centre. 

Registration for the reading is essential (for catering and security purposes). Please email andrew.vandervlies@adelaide.edu.au if you would like a copy of the schedule and registration links.

Convenors: for the Department of English, Creative Writing, and Film, Andrew van der Vlies, Julian Murphet, Ben Madden, Patrick Flanery; for the J. M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, Anne Pender and Ben Nicholls.

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