What is the Political Novel: Defining the Genre
The first annual conference of the project The Cartography of the Political Novel in Europe (CAPONEU) discusses a variety of understandings of the political novel as a genre. It probes genre-theoretically and genre-historically informed approaches to defining the political novel and to paradigmatically illustrate this mutable genre with respect to specific novels that emerged in heterogeneous contexts.
The conference will provide us with an opportunity to critically examine and expand on the tentative definition of the political novel that we have formulated as a consortium: “The political novel in Europe is a set of procedures by which a novel is coded and decoded as political in a particular constellation of circumstances (epistemological, historical, literary, national, political and linguistic). It is hence identified through the complex process of reworking and becoming (reappropriation, repositioning and rearrangement of different sets of circumstances), resulting in the novel being recognised or even misread as political, a cross-genre more than a genre.” The conference will also address a variety of methodological ways in which the political novel can be analysed, involving two interrelated levels of literary and cultural enquiry: text-immanent analysis and contextual (text-extrinsic) analysis. To this end, the speakers will historicise the various forms of the political novel and flesh out the aesthetic, epistemic, political, ethical, moral, etc. norms that guide both their own and historical understandings of what (does not) count as a political novel.
In the run-up to the conference, we will publish a number of text portraits of the novels that will be discussed.