17-19 Oct 2019 Montpellier (France)

Provisional programme

Thursday 17 October

Saint Charles Campus

9h45-10h15 Welcome



10h15 Opening of the Conference


10h30 Keynote lecture

Chair: Christine Reynier

Elke D’hoker (University of Leuven, Belgium)

Humbling the Human: Animals in Contemporary Short Fiction


11h30 Coffee break (Jardin d’hiver)


12h Parallel panels


Ecocritical Echoes (Auditorium)

Chair: Judith Misrahi-Barak

Xavier Le Brun (University of Angers, France)

Malcolm Lowry’s Humble Hypotyposes in Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place (1961)

Diane Leblond (University of Lorraine, France)

Organic Connections and Creatures of Compost in Ali Smith’s “The Beholder” (2015) and Daisy Johnson’s “Starver” (2016): When Humility Reframes the Ambition of Short Fiction


Humble Details (Salle Kouros)

Chair: Julián Jiménez Heffernan

Maxwell Donaldson (University of Aberdeen, UK)

The ‘Little’ Things: An exploration of the use of gesture in J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories

Etienne Février (University Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, France)

Humble Ambitions: Steven Milhauser’s Short Fiction


13h Lunch Break







14h30 Parallel panels


Invisibilities 1 (Auditorium)

Chair: Elke D’Hoker

Julián Jiménez Heffernan (University of Córdoba, Spain)

The Humiliating Thing: Infrastructural Storytelling in Henry James’s “Julia Bride”

Emmanuel Vernadakis (University of Angers, France)

Tourism, Tourists and the Humble in E. M. Forster’s “The Story of the Siren” (1920)

Emma Liggins (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

Haunted Space and the Inescapable Past in May Sinclair’s Uncanny Stories (1923)

Victoria Margree (University of Brighton, UK)

Imitation and Innovation in the Ghost Stories of Eleanor Scott


Humble Women (Salle Kouros)

Chair: Bryony Randall

Diane Drouin (Sorbonne University, France)

“A ridiculous little accident”: Mina Loy’s Forgotten Short Stories

Elena Gelasi (University of Cyprus)

The Lonely Voice of Women. The Humblest among the Humble. From Freeman to Simpson

Ena Panda (University of Delhi, India)

Representation of Alienation in Short Stories Written by Contemporary Francophone Women Writers of Québec

Ailsa Cox (Edge Hill University, UK)

An Extremely Private Literary Giant


16h15 Coffee break (Jardin d’hiver)




Short Story Competition

Short Story Readings 1


Jardin d’hiver

18h Cocktail




Friday 18 October


10h Auditorium

Humble War Stories

Chair: Isabelle Brasme

Elsa Högberg (Uppsala University, Sweden)

‘Unaccustomed to the ear, primitive harmonies of the world’: Katherine Mansfield’s Cries

Lisa Feklistova (University of Cambridge, UK)

‘Humble struggles’ —Mundane Routine in the Short Story in the Wake of the Great War

Lucy Durneen (University of Cambridge, UK)

“Walking back into your besieged life”: War Stories, Humbly Told



11h30 Coffee break (Jardin d’hiver)


12h Keynote lecture

Chair : Jean-Michel Ganteau

Ann-Marie Einhaus (Northumbria University, UK)

Scraps of Paper? First World War Short Fiction and the Ephemeral


13h Lunch (Salle Médicis)



14h30 Parallel panels

Migrants and Refugees (Auditorium)

Chair: Emma Liggins

Judith Misrahi-Barak (University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)

The Writing of the Refugee: Re-examining ‘bare life’ in Edwidge Danticat’s Short Stories from ‘Children of the Sea’ to ‘Without Inspection’

Carol Millner (Curtin University, Western Australia)

Trace: Short Fiction and the Western Australian Migrant Experience

Laura Gallon (University of Sussex, UK)

Short Stories & Recipes: A Reflection on Food, Gender and Genre



Ordinary Lives (Salle Kouros)

Chair : Emmanuel Vernadakis

Florence Marie (Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France)

Dorothy Richardson’s Humble Short Fiction

Bryony Randall (University of Glasgow, UK)

‘Partly in Prose’: Woolf’s Humble Cutbush

Mallory Alexandre (University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)

“My roots go down to the depths of the world”: Virginia Woolf’s Humble Short Fiction


16h Coffee break (Jardin d’hiver)



16h30 Short Story Readings 2


20h Dinner in town




Saturday 19 October


9h30 Parallel panels

Regional and National Identities (Auditorium)

Chair: Ann Marie Einhaus

Alda Correia (New University, Lisbon, Portugal)

Regionalist Short Fiction as Humble Fiction

Gérald Préher (UC Lille, France)

Shirley Ann Grau’s “The Empty Night”: The Humble Story Behind a Pulitzer-Prize Winner

Kritika Chettri (University of North Bengal, India)

The Nepali Short Story and its Humble Conflicts


Invisibilities 2 (Salle Kouros)

Chair: Xavier Le Brun

Leila Haghshenas (University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)

Humbled Selves in Leonard Woolf’s Short Fiction

Tina Terradillos (University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)

Radclyffe Hall’s Short Fiction: A Humble Ethics of the Flawed

Sylvie Maurel (University Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, France)

From Minority to Humility: Jean Rhys's Short Fiction


11h Coffee break (Jardin d’hiver)


11h30 Parallel panels


Specific Forms (Auditorium)

Chair: Ailsa Cox

Ashutosh Bhardwaj (Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India)

Conversations between the Story and the Novel: Reflections on the Self and the Other

Jane Alexander (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Writing chronic illness in short fiction

María Augusta Albuja Aguilar (Complutense University, Madrid)

“The Laughing Man”: A Humble Frame Story by J.D. Salinger



Readers (Salle Kouros)

Chair: Sandrine Sorlin

Amanda Bigler (University of Lille, France)

Empathic Second-Person Narrators in Short Fiction

Dan Powell (University of Leicester, UK)

The shape of the British Short Story in the Mid-twentieth Century: Developing a Preclosural Methodology for Writing Short Fiction

John D. Rutter (University of Central Lancashire, UK)

The Death of the Reader


13h Lunch (Salle Médicis)


Tour of Montpellier

Musée Fabre

Call for papers

Short Fiction as Humble Fiction/Reframing Short Fiction as Humble Fiction?

The title of this conference may sound like a provocative statement. It may suggest a return to a definition of the genre as a minor one, as it was the case in the 19th century, before the golden age of the short story in modernist times, when the short story was understood as being subservient to the novel (it ‘was once the condensed novel’, as Elizabeth Bowen put it) or used as a filler, in the serialization of Victorian novels.

This is obviously not what the conference means to do. We would like to reverse the perspective and claim short fiction not exactly as a minor genre but as a humble one. As a humble genre, what can the short story do that the novel cannot?  What can it better convey?

We suggest to use the ‘humble’ as a critical tool that may help reframe and redefine short fiction, a notoriously elusive genre. How do short story writers deal with humble subjects - humble humans (the poor, the marginal, the outcasts, the disabled, etc.) and non-humans (animals, plants, objects), the ordinary, the everyday, the domestic, the prosaic, etc.? How do they draw attention to what tends to be disregarded or neglected and how do they play with attention and inattention (Gardiner)? What rhetorical and stylistic devices do they use? What happens when they broach humble topics with humble tools, a bare, minimal style, for instance? How does the humble form of the short story – its brevity – fit humble topics?  Does the conjunction of the two give the short story a minor status or can it be empowering? In other words, should the humble be regarded as a synonym of ‘minor’ or as a quality and a capability (Nussbaum)?

Asking such questions will open a rich debate. How does the humble nature of short fiction connect with the epiphany, the moment of being, the event? If, along with Camille Dumoulié, we consider the ethical dimension of short fiction to be connected to/stems from its being ‘a genre of the event’, could a humble genre also be considered an ethical genreSince the term ‘humble’, from the Latin humilis . ‘low, lowly,’ Itself from humus ‘ground’’ -  is often used as a euphemism for ‘the poor’, we can consider its representation of humble characters (Joyce’s  Dubliners  or Eudora Welty’s short stories) as well as the way this genre handles the theme of poverty ( as in Dalit short fiction) or  its representations of and reflections on the earth and all that relates to the environment. The theme of the humble is also manifest In its very inclusiveness and openness to the reader, or in the very precarious nature of the genre, in its openness to other genres? Dealing with short fiction as a humble genre will thus lead contributors to take into account its interactions with humble arts and media: the art of engraving, sketching or photography used in the illustrations of the volumes or magazines in which many modernist short stories were initially published; the radio that broadcast so many short stories, sometimes read by the short story writers themselves, as occurred on BBC4 with, for instance, Frank O’Connor; the web today, with flash fiction online or video performances of short fiction, etc. How do these various art forms and media shape each other and how do these interactions construct short fiction as a humble genre? In other words, how does the motif of the humble morph into an ‘experiential category’ (Locatelli) or a poetics of the humble?

Reframing the humble as an aesthetic category will help reread short fiction and better capture its elusive contours, focusing either on well-known short fiction by famous writers that will be approached in a different light or retrieving some unfairly neglected texts from oblivion, as for examplewhat Anne Marie Einhaus has started doing in her work on The Short Story and the First World War or again, Elke d’Holker’s current work on short fiction and popular magazines..

This conference means to cross national borders and disciplinary boundaries, especially those separating literature and the visual arts or literature and philosophy. The questions asked can be broached through short fiction written in English (or in French/other languages) by writers of various nationalities over the 19th and 20th centuries until nowadays. The suggested acceptations of the term ‘humble’ are not limitative but indicative.

Proposals of about 300 words together with a short biographical note (50 words) should be sent to … by …

A selection of peer-reviewed articles will be published in The Journal of the Short Story in English and Short Fiction in Theory & Practice.


Works cited

E. Bowen, Collected Impressions, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1950, 38.

D’Hoker, Elke, and Stephanie Eggermont, “Fin-de-Siècle Women Writers and the Modern Short Story”, English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, 58/3 (2015): 291-312.

Dumoulié, Camille, Littérature et philosophie : Le gai savoir de la littérature, Paris: Armand Colin, 2002, 55.

Einhaus, Ann-Marie, The Short Story and the First World War, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Gardiner,Michael, “Everyday Utopianism: Lefebvre and his Critics”, Cultural Studies 18.2/3 (March/May 2004): 228-54.

Locatelli, Angela, ‘”The Humble/d” in Literature and Philosophy: Precariousness, Vulnerability and the Pragmatics of Social Visibility’, in The Humble in 19th, 20th and 21st-Century British Literature and Arts, I. Brasme, J-M Ganteau and C. Reynier eds., Montpellier: PULM, 2017, 147-64.

Nussbaum, Martha, Creating Capabilities. The Human Development Approach, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

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