Non-linear narrative in twentieth and twenty-first century artistic practices

Call for Papers:

Non-linear narrative in twentieth and twenty-first century artistic practices

Goldsmiths College, University of London, February 14th - 16th 2008


Deadline for abstracts: January 31st 2008


Non-linear narrative across the arts – fiction, film, performance, intelligent textiles, drama, digital forms and music – has increasingly been a feature of twentieth- and twentieth-first century artistic production. As its central concern, the seminar will ask a series of questions about the links between inter-cultural transformations and political change and this emergence, or perhaps one should say, re-emergence, of non-linear and fractured narrative. What has brought this about? If these fractured and experimental forms are a response to the breakdown of the western developmental metaphor and its grand narratives of progress, what forms of resistance or revision do they provide?   In what ways can non-linear forms be seen to emerge from the increasing interaction of different cultures through the colonial, post-colonial and post-Cold War reconfigurations of the world?  Can specific influences, including those of non-western cultures be traced? 

How do such fractured narratives work in postcolonial and diasporic writing and performance? (For example, in the work of Samuel Beckett, Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott and Kazuo Ishiguro.)  How do they enter into other artistic practices?  Can their influence be seen as much in the visual arts as in the literary?  If cultures are be understood as collections of narratives, how far are these dispersed or entrenched in a multicultural society?  How can these fractured forms explore our culturally diverse society’s competing and conflicting narratives? 

What changes about our view of the world in this move and how are connections made and explored in this form of narrative? What part has been played by thinkers and philosophers – Freud and Bergson, for example, with their notion of all our past being there in our present, or Deleuze and Guattari and their idea of de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation? 

This seminar will also ask how technological advances – cinema and the web in particular – have played their part in this move; the cinema’s elusive, elliptical narrative profoundly changing the novel form, and the web producing new forms like the blog and hypertexts.


The seminar is a co-operation between Goldsmiths College, University of London, the Copenhagen Doctoral School and the International Research Training Group "Interart Studies", Freie Universität Berlin. It is organized Helen Carr, Frederik Tygstrup and Rune Graulund.