As before, I will present here a brief rundown of the conference panels I attended with comments as they occurred to me! Obviously, in such reductive accounts, I do great damage to the content of the papers, but I do so in the hope that it will be of interest. If I have misunderstood any authors, I will, of course, be happy to make corrections.
Julia Stetler (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Julia's paper was on William F. Cody's (aka Buffalo Bill) reception in Germany. Surprisingly, given the German colonial activities taking place in such proximity to Cody's tour of that nation (over a third of his Wild West Shows took place in Europe), Stetler read the reception as exhibiting special sympathy for the Native American population. In short, Stetler concluded that the Germans regarded the Amerindians as worthy of special praise, which I found extremely odd given the actions of von Trotha in their own colonial sphere.
Alessandra Magrin (University of Strathcylde)
Alessandra presented on Buffalo Bill's reception in Italy, contrasting the public front he put on, praising Italy as the cradle of civilization, against his private remarks which revealed his actual stance as seeing Italy as the embodiment of decay.
Frank Christianson (Brigham Young University)
This was a strong paper examining the links between Mark Twain and Buffalo Bill, arguing that the Wild West show represented, for Twain, an original American cultural artifact, worthy of export and significantly raised the profile of the American exhibition attended by Queen Victoria.
Sascha Pöhlmann (LMU, Munich)
Sascha was my co-panelist, dealing with the ways in which Pynchon's vision of nationhood dissolves into a post-national framework through an examination of the way that Mason and Dixon's Line, when extended through the Atlantic actually carries many more positive connotations than might have previously been supposed.
Martin Paul Eve (University of Sussex)
Little to say here -- I recorded the paper and will upload soon!
Fabienne Collignon (University of Edinburgh)
Fabienne presented a paper of startling originality looking at the surveys of the Antartic and the technological and cultural transference of that setting into ICBM technology, thereby re-centering much of Pynchon's narrative in a place of terrible whiteness; very Melville! I also liked her sneaky reference to DFWs Great Concavity.
Laura Findlay (University of Dundee)
Laura presented on Jonathan Saffran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, arguing that the characters live in a world of individual, incommunicable trauma but, through the locus of the reader, their trauma becomes shared. I was quite mean in subjecting Laura to my questioning on how this might work with a Late Wittgensteinian Private Language Argument anti-Cartesian sentiment, but this paper was fantastic in making me think about communicability and experience.
Christopher Kydd (University of Dundee)
Christopher's paper examined the correlation between, or transference of, certain tropes of Hard Boiled American fiction into Scottish working-class narrative. Through an examination of William McIlvanney's Laidlaw, Christopher demonstrated the ways in which this work plays off the dominant narrative to expose a far more nuanced depth which dispenses with much of the unacceptable homophobia present in its predecessors.
Aliki Varvogli (University of Dundee)
I have to admit to being out of my depth on this paper, but Aliki's reading of Garrison Keillor's Pilgrims was certainly interested, but probably would have done more for me if I'd known the book! Essentially, through the resonances with James and Hawthorne, Aliki constructed a reading of return, oscillating between Minneapolis and Rome where stasis is the predominant feature.
Featured image by Alex Drennan under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.