Alternative Realities: New Challenges for American Literature in the Era of Trump

Call for Papers 

Friday 13 – Saturday 14 December 2019


Watching the televised debates between then-presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1959, and reflecting on the growth of televisual media and the gradual transformation of politics into spectacle, Philip Roth observed that “the American writer” was now challenged “to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality,” at a time when the actuality was “constantly outdoing our talents”. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016 it feels like, once again, reality is outpacing fiction, with the Trump presidency inaugurating a new stage in the process of aestheticization in which politics and entertainment converge as never before. This paradigm shift—which is not exclusive to the US, but that is especially acute given Trump’s celebrity status and his leadership style—has been sharpened by the disruptive impact of new and social media in the public sphere, bringing to the fore concomitant concerns about the derealization of political and cultural discourses. In a context where the relationship between fact and fiction has been deeply destabilized, writers are challenged to make sense of this new “American reality” that is troubling core assumptions about the purpose and value of literature.

This conference seeks to bring together scholars in literary studies and adjacent fields to consider literary responses to the new American realities.


We are delighted to confirm as Keynote Speakers:

Aleksandar Hemon

novelist, author of Nowhere Man and The Lazarus Project

Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University

Karen E. Bender

novelist and short-story writer, author of Refund, The New Order, Like Normal People

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University

Chris Beckett

novelist and short-story writer, author of America City and Dark Eden

Arthur C. Clark Award winner 2013


Topics may include (but are not confined to):

  • Narrative strategies and innovations in the literary representation of American reality
  • Intersections between fiction and non-fiction
  • Fictional subversions of the “real”
  • The valence of realism in contemporary American literature
  • Literary criticism in the age of “Fake News”
  • Politics of representation, dissent, and resistance
  • Genre and gender in contemporary American fiction
  • Diasporic, minority, immigrant, and Native American literatures
  • Right-wing/conservative American literature
  • The resurgence of American protest poetry
  • The currency of dystopian and counterfactual literature
  • The role of irony, satire and parody in the era of Trump
  • The demands of writing the contemporary
  • Reading publics and the role of fiction
  • Shifting economies in the publishing industry
  • The currency of prior literature for making sense of the present


Please submit the paper title, an abstract of 300 words, a short bio and contact details to and . We also welcome applications for full panels of 3-4 papers.

The deadline for paper and panel proposals has been extended to the 1st October 2019. (Note – we will make decisions on paper/panel submissions on a rolling basis to help facilitate participant’s planning for conference attendance). Registration fee for participants is €120, reduced fee of €50 for postgrad students.

Accommodation Options

It is advisable to arrange your accommodation as early as possible.  The following hotels/B&B are only suggestions, check their price both on the hotel’s website but also through or as sometimes it might be cheaper on their sites. In addition do check out Airbnb options.

The address for the University is Stillorgan Road, Donnybook, Dublin 4, and the best way to find the institute on Google Maps is to search for the “UCD Clinton Centre for American Studies (Belfield House)”


Avalon House

Ashfield House

Times Hostel, College Street

Times Hostel, Camden Street

Guest Houses

Latchfords Townhouse

Baggot Court Townhouse

Pembroke Townhouse


Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan Road – on a direct bus route to the University (approx 10 minutes, or a 20min walk)

Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road – also on a bus route to the University or a 30 minutes walk

Mespil Hotel, Mespil Road – on a direct bus route to the University

Clayton Hotel – Situated in Ballsbridge; it’s approximately a 15 minute bus journey to the city centre, or a 40 minute walk.

The Davenport – Located on Merrion Square, City Centre.

The Alexander – Located just across from the Davenport on Merrion Square (close to the National Gallery). Underwent a refurbishment in 2017. City Centre

Mont Clare – Right by the Davenport & Alexander (they are all owned by the O’Callaghan group, as is the Stephen’s Green hotel, City Centre

The Camden Court Hotel – Situated at the bottom of Camden Street, close to the canal. They have very good offers available from time to time so are definitely worth a look.

The Radisson – Just off George’s Street, so a central location, easily to walk everywhere in the city from here.

The Fitzwilliam – St. Stephen’s Green, City Centre

Ballsbridge Hotel – Approximately a 25-30 minute walk to the city centre, or 10-15 minutes on the bus.

An additional website to look for accommodation near the UCD is

Getting to University College Dublin from the City Centre

If you decide to stay in the city centre there are several buses that that will bring you directly onto the campus or at the campus entrance, which is very close to the Clinton Institute (remember the institute is listed as “UCD Clinton Centre for American Studies” on Google Maps). Regular routes are the 39A, 46A and 145. You can check bus routes here.

Please be aware that Dublin bus works on an exact fare system (€2.80) and they do not accept notes so please have coins with you.


Getting from the airport to the city or your hotel

It is advisable to get a bus to the city centre as a taxi could cost up to €40 depending on where you are staying.

The is an excellent bus service called the Aircoach which goes from outside the arrivals hall (both T1 and T2) and delivers people to a number of hotels both in the city centre and on the outskirts of the city near UCD, including the first 3 hotels. The return fare is €12/€15, and the route you will probably take is the “700 via City Centre”.

Another option to City Centre is the Airlink 747.


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