10 July 2010
Occasional Music was a one-day symposium on the work of the American writer Jonathan Lethem. The first such event to be held anywhere, it was also distinguished by Lethem’s presence; he concluded the day with a reading from Dissident Gardens and other works in progress, and a Q&A session with Joe Brooker.
Lethem’s work brings together numerous areas of interest: science fiction, crime and other genres; New York, California and the experience of place; literary tradition and linguistic play; fandom, comic books and popular music. These and other themes were addressed during a richly interesting day.
Immediately after the symposium, Zara Dinnen recorded an exclusive interview with Lethem in Gordon Square. This was published as a podcast in Birkbeck's postgraduate online journal Dandelion.
Panel 1: The American Century
Samuel Cohen: So Beautiful, So Stupid, So American
Richard Greenwald: Find Myself a City to Live In
(paper read by Bianca Leggett)
Chair: Peter Boxall
Panel 2: The Outlaw of Genre
James Peacock: Faraway, So Close
Benjamin Widiss: Minna Man, Gushman, Ullman
(paper read by Dennis Duncan)
Chair: Roger Luckhurst
Panel 3: The Frivolous Now
Tony Venezia: Comic Book Guys
Zara Dinnen: Something Borrowed, Something New?
Chair: Samuel Cohen
Panel 4: Love Minus Zero
Adam Gearey: Lethem’s Science of Love
Chair: James Peacock
Reading from Dissident Gardens, They Live! and Fear of Music
Chair: Joe Brooker
Image by Russell McGovern under a CC BY-NC-SA license.