Colours of Memory

11 July 2014

In July 2014 the Centre for Contemporary Literature will host a conference dedicated to the writing of Geoff Dyer — novelist, essayist, art and photography critic and travel writer. Particular attention will be given to the place of photography and of photographic criticism in Dyer's work. The event is organized by Dr Bianca Leggett.

Geoff Dyer will be in attendance throughout the day and for a Q&A session at the end of proceedings.

Dyer is an interstitial figure: his blending of memoir, essay and fiction ('creative criticism’) and use of intertextuality and sampling in his writing work together to challenge established generic boundaries and cultural hierarchies. His interests take in everything from film, photography, travel, jazz and Modernist literature to drugs, doughnuts, rave music and the poetics of procrastination. His playful, personal and sometimes meandering style expands our understanding of how criticism relates to its subject, but also amounts to a commentary on the contemporary itself, specifically questions of uncreativity, 'reality hunger' and exhaustion in the information age.  This conference aims to bring together scholars with expertise in this important author for the first time, but also to use Dyer’s work as a way of accessing some of the most urgent debates in literary and photographic criticism.

The event is also supported by the Centre for Research into the History and Theory of Photography, and by a grant from the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

For further information email or follow @gdyerconference on Twitter.



9.30             Open for Registration

10.00           Welcome

10.10            Keynote

Amitava Kumar, Vassar College: Academic Interest

11.00            Coffee

11.20            PANEL 1:  This Imaginary Republic
A consideration of how we place Dyer in relation to his peers, his precursors and his experiments with genre.

Alexander Williamson, Birkbeck
Lines of beauty: Cocaine and the English – representations of class, consumerism and drug culture in contemporary British fiction

Shreepad Joglekar, Kansas State University
Mining the Nonfiction 'Work' of Art

Jonathan Gibbs, University of East Anglia
But funny: Geoff Dyer and comic writing

1.00              Lunch
A video piece entitled Vita Contemplativa by speaker Shreepad Joglekar will be on display.

2.00              PANEL 2: A Way Of Joining In
In this panel, speakers discuss the relationship between readers and writers in Dyer's writing, and explore the position of their own work in relation to his books.

Elizabeth Minkel, University College London
Transformative Works

James Hilton, freelance writer
Geoff Dyer and the Laws of Writing

Matthew Harle, Birkbeck                
Roggerio, The Greatest Opera The World Has Never Seen

Tom Overton, King’s College London
‘He has smashed me at ping-pong for years’: Geoff Dyer and John Berger

3.30              Coffee

3.45              PANEL 3: The Ongoing Moment

This year marks 25 years since the publication of Geoff Dyer’s first novel, The Colour of Memory. In this panel we consider the evolution of Dyer’s work over this period and his engagement with the times.

Joseph Brooker, Birkbeck
Counting Backwards: a Quarter-Century of The Colour of Memory

Morgan Daniels, Queen Mary University of London
What Colour was the 1990s?

Bianca Leggett, Harlaxton College, University of Evansville
All at Sea: Soldiers and Slackers in the Travel Writing of Geoff Dyer

5.00              Closing Remarks

5.15              A reading from Geoff Dyer’s new book, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush

5.30              Interview / Q&A

6.30              Wine Reception



Image by Sheba_Also under a CC BY-NC-ND license.


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