Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today
Christopher S. Chen
UC Santa Cruz
“Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today,” considered the legacy of New Narrative writing, galvanized by Bay Area and national writing communities over the past several decades. While for most of its history, New Narrative has been afforded scant mainstream recognition, it is increasingly the subject of long overdue scholarly attention, and the source of direct inspiration for an emerging generation of prose writers. While looking to the future, “Communal Presence” reconvenes the milieu and intersections that made New Narrative writing such a robust and exciting venture from its inception. The conference commingled new and established academics with some of New Narrative’s major participants. Fully half of the programming was devoted to panels resurfacing the questions that prompted New Narrative’s innovative practices in terms of identity, community-based writing, gender, sexuality, genre, and political economy. A series of associated readings and performances also situated founding New Narrative writers alongside inheritors and fellow travelers.