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Seminar considers the pandemic’s impact in the context of Kazuo Ishiguro’s fiction

06/07/2020

Two university academics have teamed up to organise a global seminar on the work of Kazuo Ishiguro in a joint effort to understand the meaning of the current global crisis and to help plan for the future.

Professor Sebastian Groes from the School of Humanities at the University of Wolverhampton and Dr Dominic Dean from the University of Sussex have joined forces to organise the online global seminar that invites scholars, teachers and fans of Ishiguro to explore and respond critically and creatively to the ways Ishiguro’s work engages with international crisis and its renewed resonance. 

The event, Kazuo Ishiguro and International Crisis: A Global Seminar will take place on Saturday 11th July 2020 on Zoom between 9.00 am and 11.00 am and from 12.00 midday until 2.00 pm. To register for the seminar please email: ishiguroandcrisis@gmail.com.

The seminar will consider the series of overlapping crises in the realms of politics, health, ecology, trust, truth and ethics and will explore a renewed sense of nationalism and new psychological dynamics of control and paranoia which are reflected in Nobel Prize winner, Ishiguro’s, writing.

Professor Groes said: ““In the shadows of other emergencies from political extremism to ecological collapse this event asks how Kazuo Ishiguro’s fiction can make sense of a world in crisis. We think that Literature has a very important role to play. The Coronavirus crisis challenges everything from how we live, think, love, travel, and forces us to reconsider our priorities at all levels of life.

“Unresolved 21st century debates on our relationship to nature, freedom and social injustice have become all the more urgent.  As the crisis unfolds and societies are confronted daily with fundamental uncertainties, the recognition that the world will never be the same again has led to the emergence of a perspective that views our situation as an opportunity to accelerate older emancipatory movements and ideas and to consider alternative ways of living. 

“Scientists and politicians have a leading role in charting the course ahead, but the Humanities too have a major role to play in understanding how to make sense of this bewildering situation.  Indeed, we propose that literature has an important part in rethinking the future.  The work of Nobel Prize winning writer Kazuo Ishiguro serves as a counsel for understanding the current situation whilst it can help us maintain a sense of humanity during this unprecedented situation.”

The seminar is a follow-up event to the successful “Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Kazuo Ishiguro” held at the University of Wolverhampton earlier this year. 

Dr Dean said: “The earlier conference in Wolverhampton took place the day after what many assumed to be the defining British crisis of 2020 – the UK’s departure from the European Union.

“Since then, the world has experienced new and accelerated forms of international crisis that are continuously changing our understandings of the present, our analysis of risks, and our visions of hope for the future. Kazuo Ishiguro’s work has long interrogated all these issues, and as a community of Ishiguro scholars, we believe that this crisis is a moment where that work must be once again brought to the forefront of scholarly and public attention.”

Contributors from around the world, including Japan, the USA, and Hungary will take part in the seminar. In the UK, participants from Swansea to Sunderland, home to Ishiguro expert Dr Barry Lewis, will talk about novels including The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant, which presents a medieval world in crisis. 

The seminar focuses not only on the effects of COVID-19 but considers other contemporary crises as well including climate change, crises of capitalism, migration conflicts, renewed nationalisms, political, cultural and generational conflicts and ‘post-truth’ culture.

For more information, contact the conference organisers: Dr Dominic Dean (University of Sussex)  d.dean@sussex.ac.uk and Professor Sebastian Groes S.Groes@wlv.ac.uk  (University of Wolverhampton).

Anyone interested in studying English Literature or Creative Writing at the University of Wolverhampton can still apply for courses starting in September and October 2020.

ENDS

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