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Viewing convention Program information from 2014

Session Details

30. The Work of the Pastoral Mode Today

Monday, 9 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Northwestern–Ohio State, Chicago Marriott

A special session

Presiding: Judith Ailsa Seaboyer, Univ. of Queensland

Judith Ailsa Seaboyer's Annotation:
Session 30
“The Work of the Pastoral Mode Today”
Narrative testimony in vulnerable times: Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs and Virgilian Pastoral
Judith Seaboyer, University of Queensland
While the focus of this paper will be Black Dogs, I will contextualise, briefly, the ways in which contemporary novels that, in response to vulnerable times, enter into a dialogue by means of that flexible, historically long-lived, transformative, and inherently dialogic mode called pastoral. I will explain why Virgil’s Eclogues, through such Renaissance figures as Milton and Shakespeare, are central to what is essentially literature that sets out to “transform history by bearing witness” (Shoshana Felman, Testimony 95). I will briefly outline turn to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna to illustrate how Virgil’s poetry of ideas influences these two novelists of ideas before moving onto a discussion of Black Dogs.

1. "Narrative Testimony in Vulnerable Times: Ian McEwan's Black Dogs and Vergilian Pastoral," Judith Ailsa Seaboyer

2. "Re-creating Eden: Pastoral Postapocalypse and Utopian Engineering in the Fiction of Sam Taylor," Caroline Edwards, Univ. of Lincoln

3. "'The Hugeness of This Space': Damon Galgut and the South African Pastoral," Mark Deggan, Univ. of British Columbia


  • Genre, Theory, Method – Prose Fiction

  • Other Literature in English – General

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