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

Public Event (book your place here)

Keynote speakers:

Aleksandar Hemon – UCD Discovery Visiting Fellow

author of My Parents: An Introduction (2019), Nowhere Man and The Lazarus Project
Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University

Karen E. Bender

author of The New Order (2018), Refund and Like Normal People
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University

Chris Beckett

author of Beneath the World, a Sea (2019), America City and Dark Eden
Arthur C. Clarke Award winner 2013


Full Conference Programme (PDF here)

FRIDAY 13th December

9.00-9.30              Registration

9.30-9.45              Welcome


Panel 1 (Sitting Room): Alternative realities, narrative, and race in the story of America

Sonia Weiner (Tel Aviv University)
“The Direction of the Bizarre”: Reimagining History in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

Keren Omry (University of Haifa)
Racing Alternativity: Nisi Shawl, Colson Whitehead, and Ben Winters

Karen Hellekson (Independent Scholar)
Underground Airlines, Entropy, and Dehumanization

Panel 2 (Seminar Room): Latinx

Macarena García-Avello (Universidad de Cantabria)
Transnational Borderlands in US Latina Literature

Ben V. Olguín (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Right-Wing Raza: Borderlands Aesthetics and Variable Latinx Ideologies in Latinx Paramilitary Life Writing in the Era of Trump

Anna Marta Marini (Instituto Franklin, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares)
Reconstructing the Trump Era through a Latino Perspective in El Machete Illustrated

11.00-11.20     Tea & coffee

11.20 – 12.30

Panel 3 (Sitting Room): Muslim and Arab American Writing

Bernadette Andrea (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Crossing Borders and Initiating Dialogue: Sufi Journeying (Safar) in Fatema Mernissi’s Scheherezade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems

Maria Mothes (Universität Koblenz-Landau)
Writing the Antidote: Representations of Resistance by Muslim Writers in Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic and Banthology

Panel 4 (Seminar Room): Media narratives, critique and political correctness

Alyn Euritt (Universität Leipzig)
“A mosquito trapped in amber”: Podcasting’s Time-Shifted Seriality in the Trump Era

Adam Duke (Universiteit Utrecht)
The Failure of Critique in the Novels of Don DeLillo

Sydney Forde (University at Buffalo and Brock University)
Compromised Freedom: US News Media’s Fear of Anti-Semite Accusations

12.30-13.15        Plenary 1 (Seminar Room): Aleksandar Hemon: Writing the Unimaginable

13.15-14.15         Lunch


Panel 5 (Sitting Room): Discourse

Olga Thierbach-McLean (Independent Scholar)
“Build, Therefore, Your Own World” on “Alternative Facts”: The American Tradition of Subjectivity from Emerson to Trump

Marcela Ganea (Artifex University of Bucharest)
American Exceptionalism in Donald Trump’s Crippled America

Michelle Mihee Kim Gardner (University of California, Irvine)
Fight Club and the Appeal to the White, Male Imagination: A Sociopolitical Understanding of the Rise Above Movement (RAM)

Panel 6 (Seminar Room): Race

Mónica Fernández Jiménez (Universidad de Valladolid)
Alienation vs. Black Collective Consciousness in JM Holmes’ How Are You Going to Save Yourself (2018)

Yesmina Khedhir (University of Debrecen)
“This is where my two stories come together”: The Traumatic Memory of the Brother in Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped and Sing, Unburied, Sing 

Iris HyunJin Hwang (Independent Scholar)
Effects of Negative Stereotypes about Black Women on Recent Representations of Black Motherhood in Young Adult Literature

15.30-16.00     Tea & coffee


Panel 7 (Sitting Room): Narratives of resistance

Sara Prieto (Universidad de Alicante)
Poetics of Resistance: Women Writers and the Intellectual Mobilization under the Trump Administration

Angela Mullis (Rutgers University)
Writing the Resistance: Claudia Rankine’s Exploration of Whiteness in The White Card

Juanjo Bermúdez de Castro (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
Scriptwriters Confront Trump: Narrative Dissent in the Trump Era

Panel 8 (Seminar Room): Revisiting History

Elżbieta Horodyska (University of Warsaw)
A New Consciousness of Coexistence: Mobility and Settlement in Jim Harrison’s Novels

Anna M. Brígido-Corachán (Universitat de València)
An American Sunrise: Land-Based Solidarity and Social Justice in 21st Century Native American Poetry

Méliné Kasparian (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
Autobiography as Resistance: Chicana Writers in the Era of Trump

17.15-18.00         Plenary 2 (Seminar Room): Chris Beckett: Good Guys and Bad Guys: Thoughts from a Writer’s Perspective

18.00-19.00         Wine Reception (Board Room)         


SATURDAY 14th December


Panel 9 (Sitting Room): Dystopia and genre fiction

Maria Eduarda Gil Vicente (Universidade de Coimbra)
Rereading Dystopias of the Twentieth Century in the Age of Trump: Frames of Reference to Understand the Present and Map Possible Futures

Martha Jane Nadell (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
Alternative Cities: Playing with Genre Fiction in the Age of Trump

Bettina Huber (Universität Passau)
A Story about Ruin: Female Terrorists, Environmental Damage, and Fake News Reports in Omar El Akkad’s American War

Panel 10 (Seminar Room): Representations of trauma and pain

Martín Fernández Fernández (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)
Traumatic Reverberations through the New American Realities: The Ghost of Emmet Till in Bernice L. McFadden’s Gathering of Waters

Paula Barba Guerrero (Universidad de Salamanca)
Alternative Witnessing in the Post-Truth Era: Ethical Accountability in Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys

Anna Bendrat (Maria Curie-Skłodowska University)
Bodies without Organs: Metaphors of Pain in 21st-century American Literature

11.00-11.25         Tea & coffee 


Panel 11 (Sitting Room): Parody and satire

Teresa Botelho (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
How Do We Laugh about This? Literary Satire in “Trump Times”

Vanesa Roldán Romero (Universidad de Granada)
Parodying the Past to Subvert the Present in Jasper Fforde’s Nextian Series

Panel 12 (Seminar Room): Evangelical fictions

Jonathon O’Donnell (University College Dublin)
“Their Diabolical Resolve”: Demonology and Crisis in Contemporary America

Cat Ashton (Independent Scholar)
“One doesn’t defer to process when dealing with the devil”: Alternative Facts and Evangelical Fiction


12.15-13.00         Plenary 3 (Seminar Room): Karen E. Bender: Fiction as Warning, Witness and Mirror: Reading from Stories in The New Order 

13.00-14.00         Lunch


Panel 13 (Sitting Room): Thinking about fiction

Karen Armstrong (York University, Canada)
Intersections of Literature, Politics and Narrative in a Fake News World: Huck Finn, Alice in Wonderland and Hannah Arendt’s Conception of the “New” Narrative

Dominik Steinhilber (Universität Mannheim)
Moral Fiction in a Post-Truth Age: Poststructuralism and the New Sincerity in American Literature and Right-Wing Politics

Robert Anthony Siegel (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Empathy and Fiction in the Trump Era

Panel 14 (Seminar Room): Readings on war and violence

Mohammad Sadegh Najjarzadeha (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
The Theory of Mimetic Rivalry or the Way Girard Perceives Violence: An Essay on the Representation of Violence in the Genre of the American Southern Gothic

Justin Shaw (Université Sainte-Anne)
The Truth of Fiction and the Fiction of Truth: Novelizations and Memoirs of the War on Terror

Pascal Lemaire (Independent Scholar)
Techno-Thriller in the Age of Trump: A Reading in Radicalization

15.15-15.45 Tea & coffee


Panel 15 (Sitting Room): Affect

Katarzyna Paszkiewicz (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
“Tipped over, and still growing”: Cinema, Affect and Alternative Realities in the Era of Trump

Spencer Morrison (Tel Aviv University)
The Affective Life of Anti-Globalization in Sunil Yapa’s Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Tim Groenland (University College Cork)
“I’d get so constipated if I were you”: Otessa Moshfegh’s Intimate Disgust

Panel 16 (Seminar Room): Ethnicity and Narrative Strategies

Tom Meinderts (Universiteit Leiden)
Strategic Self-Orientalism

Vanesa Lado-Pazos (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)
Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek: Gender and Ethnicity in Contemporary America

Nasrin Babakhani (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
Magic from the Margins: Multiple Realisms in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony

Laura Roldán-Sevillano (Universidad de Zaragoza)
From Postmodernism to Twenty-First Century Realism. Exploring the Response of Contemporary US Ethnic Women Writers to the New Paradigm Shift

17.15     Conference moves to the city centre

18.30     Public Talk at the Museum of Literature (MoLi), 86 St. Stephen’s Green (Newman House):

What to Read (and Write) in the Era of Trump?
Aleksandar Hemon, Chris Beckett, and Karen E. Bender in Conversation

19.45     Reception


With the support of:



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

Find Us

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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