Marc Farrant (Goldsmiths) & Kai Easton (SOAS)

Confirmed Event:

J. M. Coetzee (a reading)

Kathryn Mosley (guest pianist)

Confirmed Speakers:
  • Derek Attridge (York) (in absentia; film screening)
  • David Attwell (York) (in absentia; film screening)
  • Jennifer Rutherford (Adelaide)
  • Kai Easton (SOAS)
  • Marc Farrant (Goldsmiths)
  • Jan Wilm (Goethe University)
  • Peter McDonald (Oxford)
  • Hermann Wittenberg (University of the Western Cape)
  • Carrol Clarkson (Amsterdam)
  • Richard Barney (Suny-Albany)

‘… I have been through the letters and diaries. What Coetzee writes there cannot be trusted, not as a factual record – not because he was a liar but because he was a fictioneer’ (Summertime 225).

What does it mean to be a fictioneer? And what precisely is the relationship between the truth of J. M. Coetzee’s works, especially with regard to the life-story of the fictionalised memoirs, and the factual record that lies behind them? How might such a self-reflexive body of work impact upon our reading of archival materials – manuscripts, drafts, letters and diaries?

The recent consolidation in 2012 of the Coetzee Collection at the world famous Harry Ransom Center (HRC), University of Texas – Austin, offers an exciting opportunity for scholars to address anew such fascinating, enthralling, and intractable questions.

This inaugural conference on Coetzee’s archive invites speakers to engage with both the general topic of the archive in Coetzee Studies and with the specific and voluminous materials that have travelled to the HRC to date.   What might be considered their ‘origins’, their ‘original homes’?  Where were they written, drafted, published, otherwise housed?  Where, in other words, do archives ‘begin’, and where might they take us?  Can we pinpoint such formations, and what are the implications of such geographies and materialities, theoretically and/or empirically, for the story of a writing life?

Touching upon disciplines as varied as the life sciences, theology and philosophy, South African history and politics, canonical literary intertexts, translation, and engagements with other artistic forms (visual; filmic; sound), Coetzee’s richly curated archive serves as a springboard for further investigations into his published writing and collaborative work.  With its numerous multi-lingual and multi-modal resources, it invites a significant expansion of critical scholarship, and asks us to consider questions of wider artistic practices, approach and methodology, genre, theory and creativity. We warmly welcome contributions from emerging and established scholars that seek to take imaginative and discursive leaps into new territories.

Abstracts (250-300 words) for 20-minute papers should be sent by 15 JUNE 2017 to: Please include details of your level of study/position, and institutional affiliation.



TWITTER: @coetzeearchives

Our related CHASE Research Training day will preface the conference.  All CHASE scholars and conference delegates are most welcome.

Chasing the Archives:  Exchanges, Encounters, Elisions

4 October 2017 (details and schedule to follow).

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Enquiries: Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; Email: