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What is experimental fiction? Masterclass with Lars Bernaerts (Brussels)

10 April 2013

What is experimental fiction? Concepts, Metaphors and the Case of the Postwar Neo-Avant-Garde in the Low Countries

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How can we approach the challenging formal experiments of 1960s and 1970s fiction? What are the typical strategies used in innovative fiction and indeed, what is experimental fiction? Instead of defining literary experiments in negative terms, as deviant and destructive, we will zoom in on concepts, metaphors, and strategies that allow us to define innovative fiction in positive terms and to produce new interpretations. A brief literary historical contextualization will explore the affinities with other strands of literary experimentation (historical avant-garde, nouveau roman, OuLiPo). We explore the idea of the literary text as a game and neo-avant-garde fiction as an experiment. We will also look into textual strategies such as literary abstraction (by analogy with painterly abstraction), lyricization, and the use of mathematical and linguistic constraints. Finally, we consider narratological concepts such as ‘defamiliarization’, ‘naturalization,’ and ‘narrativization’ to reflect upon the relationship between the experimental text and the reader. The main case studies will be taken from the Flemish neo-avant-garde authors Mark Insingel, C.C. Krijgelmans, and Ivo Michiels.

The format (mini-lecture and workshop on 23 April, 5–7pm) will give you the opportunity to put into practice the concepts introduced in the lecture and to get to know experimental fiction from a less commonly studied European literature.

Attendance is free and open to all. Advanced booking is required. To register, please contact Dr Florian Mussgnug ( by Monday, 15 April 2013.

Lars Bernaerts, Professor for Literary Theory at the Free University of Brussels is a visiting fellow at the UCL Department of Dutch in term II and III. His research focuses on experimental fiction and methods of textual analysis (classical and postclassical narratology, speech-act theory). His research project at UCL focusses on the Dutch and Flemish Neo-Avant-Garde of the 1960s and 1970s.

Page last modified on 10 apr 13 12:49 by Ulrich Tiedau