“Only Connect: Reconsidering E.M. Forster’s and Ismail Merchant and James Ivory’s Howards End

 

E.M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) has been the object of a vibrant critical debate. Often defined as inheriting from the long-standing tradition of the condition-of-England novel, it has, more recently, also been read as portraying British society on the brink of a profound social, political and cultural change. From a more strictly literary point of view, it can be read as a transition text, heralding high modernism, while still somehow looking back to the “great tradition” of Victorian fiction. E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End may thus be seen as engaging with the ethos of relationality, whether it be from a social, cultural or literary point of view. Its having been adapted to the screenin1992 by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory raises yet new issues regarding aesthetic relationality, the comparison between film and novel offering a fruitful ground to reflect back on Forster’s aesthetics but also reconsider the historical and aesthetic significance of Ivory’s adaptations. The new Agrégation syllabus offers an opportunity for a timely contextual reflexion on how both novel and film represent the social fabric of Edwardian England, the notion of “culture,” as well as this aesthetic of transition in the history of British fiction and in adaptation studies.

A one-day conference will be held at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, organized  in collaboration with the SEAC (Société d’Études Anglaises Contemporaines), the University Toulouse Jean Jaurès (CAS – EA 801) and the ENS Ulm, to discuss the issues raised by the film and the novel, and survey recent critical approaches and debates concerning the condition-of-England novel and its transposition.

We welcome papers on the novel, the film, or both, dealing with, for instance:

 

– Englishness, home, pastoralism and place

– London and suburbia

– heritage, legacy and transmission

– urbanisation, capitalism and Empire

– economics, class, and social vulnerability

– contemporary politics and social change

– objects and cultural commodities

– consensus and dissensus

– the common and commonality

– Forster’s “liberal-humanism”

– gender and genre

– ambiguity and irony

– the Forsterian narrative voice

– aesthetic transitioning: Edwardian fiction into Modernism

– symbolism, leitmotifs, operatic structure, music and meaning

– seeing and the unseen

– cuts, loss and fractures

– heritage cinema

 

Proposals for papers in English (300 words) may be sent to Catherine Lanone (catherine.lanone@sorbonne-nouvelle.fr) and Laurent Mellet (lau.mellet@gmail.com) by 15 September 2019.

 

Symposium: “Only Connect: Reconsidering E.M. Forster’s and Ismail Merchant and James Ivory’s Howards End”

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