Wallace Scholarship: The Second Wave? (Infinite Wallace 2014 Day 3)
As you may be aware, the Infinite Wallace conference changed location for its final day. Apparently, some philosopher strangled his wife in this place, but I haven't been able to confirm the veracity or otherwise of this just yet.
And don't worry, a strongly worded letter to the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University is being drafted as we blog, expressing my bemusement at how exactly I'm expected to work in such conditions.
In a remarkable and moving address that closed the Infinite Wallace Conference, Adam Kelly today spoke of Wallace scholarship as a group mind. Kelly then went on to make what amounted to a call for an expansion of this mind by suggesting that new avenues for exploration of Wallace – many of them proposed by the conference speakers themselves – signalled an exciting and dynamic future for the discipline.
Without disparaging in the slightest the fine work that has been done so far, Kelly acknowledged – pretty much – that the times they were a-changin’. The upcoming dialogue, he appeared to intimate, between established Wallace scholarship and new voices, would make for a rich and innovative discourse.
Kelly’s talk was preceded by one from Mary K Holland, who made the sorely needed point that issues surrounding Wallace and gender had been spectacularly under-examined by Wallace scholars in the past and, well, sorry, but this, sadly, continues to be the case.
Holland appeared slightly ill at ease making this point in a largely male setting, but this reporter, for one, thought she was spot on in her appraisal of what is – let’s not mince words here – a wildly imbalanced state of affairs.
And Ralph Clare’s talk, on neuro atypical characterisations in Wallace’s work, further underlined that differing or under represented approaches to familiar subjects can often bear the most interesting fruit.
This prompted questions on the idea of reading Wallace through the lenses of race, queerness, whiteness studies and continental philosophy, exciting developments indeed for a room dominated by white, male voices.
As Kelly remarked: “I think it would be really exciting to hear what Queer Theory, for example, might have to say to Wallace Studies, and vice versa.”
It’s probably too early to be calling this the second wave of Wallace scholarship, and your reporter will openly admit that, well, he’s been out at the post-conference dinner and, yeah, got on the piss maybe a little more that he should have and possibly is getting slightly excited and all that.
Perhaps the second wave hasn’t started, not just yet. If you look closely, though, there seems to be little doubt that the water is definitely on the rise.