See our summary news article for pictures, descriptions and links to available videos.

Thursday, October 20

Olin Library Room 142

1:00 – Welcome Remarks

Nadia Ghasedi

Nadia Ghasedi is the associate university librarian for Special Collections Services Division at Washington University. In this role, she serves as a member of the Libraries senior leadership team, contributing to the development of organizational vision, strategic initiatives, resource allocation, policy development, and data-driven evaluation of activities and services.

Nadia holds an Executive M.B.A from Washington University’s Olin School of Business, an M.A. in Information Science & Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Certificate in Film Preservation from the L. Jeffrey School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. She holds a B.A. in Communication Arts and a minor in Classical Humanities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

1:05 – Book manuscript excerpts

Crystal Alberts will read excerpts about Gaddis at the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris from Odile Hellier’s forthcoming memoir Voices from the Village Voice to be published by Seven Stories Press in 2024. Dan Simon, publisher of Seven Stories Press, has given his permission for the excerpt to be read at the conference. With thanks to Sarah Gaddis for making this reading possible.

1:20 – Film screening

We will screen part of Matthew Gaddis’s never-before-seen short film “3 from a Play” featuring footage of his father in Cologne, Germany and in Key West, Florida. The audio track includes Gaddis reading from Agapē Agape. With thanks to Matthew Gaddis for providing the video and permission to screen an edited version. The full version is included in the “Valuable Dregs” exhibit in the Ginkgo Room of Olin Library.

1:45 – Roundtable 1 – Gaddis’ Unpublished Writing

Scholars discuss Gaddis’ unpublished creative work found in the William Gaddis Papers.

Jeffrey Severs

Jeffrey Severs is associate professor of English at the University of British Columbia, the author of DAVID FOSTER WALLACE’S BALANCING BOOKS: FICTIONS OF VALUE (2017), and the coeditor of PYNCHON’S AGAINST THE DAY: A CORRUPTED PILGRIM’S GUIDE (2011). He has also published articles on postwar fiction in journals including CritiqueMELUSTextual PracticeModern Fiction Studies, and others.

Ali Chetwynd

Ali Chetwynd is Assistant Professor and Chair of the English Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He works on the constructive argumentative capacities of antimimetic fiction usually taken to be intrinsically anti-rational. He co-edited THOMAS PYNCHON, SEX, AND GENDER (University of Georgia Press, 2018), while his work on Pynchon, William Gaddis, Ben Jonson, and the relationship between non-realist fiction and philosophy has appeared in College Literature, English Studies, Orbit: A Journal of American Literature, Textual Practice, and other venues.

Crystal Alberts

Crystal Alberts is a professor of English at the University of North Dakota, where she also serves as the director of the UND Writers Conference. As a graduate student at WashU, she helped process the William Gaddis Papers. Alberts co-edited WILLIAM GADDIS: THE LAST OF SOMETHING. Her Gaddis scholarship also appears in PAPER EMPIRE: WILLIAM GADDIS AND THE WORLD SYSTEM. Most recently, in addition to serving as PI (or Co-PI) on back-to-back NEH grants focused on digital humanities projects, including one in partnership with Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, she is working on a monograph (under contract) titled Art & Science in the Works of Don DeLillo

Olin Library Mendle Classroom and Ginkgo Room

2:45 – William Gaddis Papers Open House and “Valuable Dregs” Exhibit Viewing

Joel Minor, curator of the Modern Literature Collection and manuscripts will give a brief overview of the newly reprocessed William Gaddis Papers, with some highlights available for browsing in the Mendle Room. Minor will also introduce the “Valuable Dregs” exhibition that he curated in the Ginkgo Room.

Holmes Lounge

3:45 – Break / walk to Holmes Lounge

Holmes Lounge is in the next building to the east of Olin Library. Look for event signs leading you to the entrance. Whisper’s Café in Olin Library serves a wide variety of drinks and snacks and has an exit leading straight to Holmes.

4:00 – Keynote Address – Steven Moore

“New Directions for Gaddis Scholarship”

After offering a brief review of Gaddis scholarship over the last forty years, Moore will discuss areas of research that have not yet been addressed, and that he hopes younger Gaddis critics will tackle someday.

Steven Moore is the author/editor of several books and essays on William Gaddis, and has written about many of Gaddis’s literary acquaintances in MY BACK PAGES: REVIEWS AND ESSAYS. His new edition of THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM GADDIS is due out in April 2023 from New York Review Books. He is also the author of  the  two-volume survey THE NOVEL: AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY and of books on Ronald Firbank and Alexander Theroux.

5:00 – Authors Reading and Discussing Gaddis

Sponsored by the The Mary and Max Wisgerhof Professional Development Fund for MFA Candidates in Creative Writing (Fiction)

Rick Moody – Reading from A Frolic of His Own

Rick Moody is the author of six novels (including THE ICE STORM), three collections of stories, and three works of non-fiction, including, most recently, THE LONG ACCOMPLISHMENT, a memoir. He teaches at Tufts University, and lives in Massachusetts. He’s at work on a new novel. 

Nick Sullivan – Reading from J R

Nick Sullivan has been recording audiobooks since the days of cassette tapes, narrating over five hundred titles in nearly every genre, including four Gaddis novels and six novels of his own. Nick is a veteran actor of television, film, and Broadway, and the author of The Deep Series.  

Joy Williams – Reading an essay on Gaddis

Joy Williams is the author of five novels and five collections of stories, as well as ILL NATURE, a book of essays that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Among her many honors are the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Paris Review’s Hadada Award and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was elected to the Academy in 2008.

6:30 – Reception and Book Sales

Join us for a “Taste of St. Louis” reception courtesy of Bon Appetit and sales of books by and about William Gaddis, courtesy of Subterranean Books

Friday, October 21

Olin Library Room 142

9:00 – Panel 1 – Historical Gaddis & Literary Gaddis

Ali Chetwynd – “Gaddis’s fiction against his ‘pompous and inchoate’ self-inserts”

Ali Chetwynd is Assistant Professor and Chair of the English Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He works on the constructive argumentative capacities of antimimetic fiction usually taken to be intrinsically anti-rational. He co-edited THOMAS PYNCHON, SEX, AND GENDER (University of Georgia Press, 2018), while his work on Pynchon, William Gaddis, Ben Jonson, and the relationship between non-realist fiction and philosophy has appeared in College Literature, English Studies, Orbit: A Journal of American Literature, Textual Practice, and other venues.

Ted Morrissey – “‘Honored by the Error’: The Literary Friendship of Gass and Gaddis”

Ted Morrissey’s primary scholarly interest is William H. Gass, but he has published work on William Gaddis at and presented papers on The Recognitions, Carpenter’s Gothic, and Agapē Agape. He is a lecturer in Lindenwood University’s MFA in Writing program.

David Ting – “How William Gaddis Met His Austrian Twin”

David Ting is embarking on his second year of medical school at Kansas City University. SD (Student Doctor) Ting’s publications include translations of Paul Celan, poetry, and a Pushcart-nominated short story. He made his first short film this past summer. In his spare time he enjoys bouldering, and painting Warhammer miniatures. For his senior thesis in the History of Science at Princeton, SD Ting examined William Gaddis’s personal library and his exceptional habits as a reader.

10:30 – Break

Small pastries, coffee, teas, fruit available

10:45 – Panel 2 – Justice and the Modalities of the Gaddis Universe

Fabrizio S. Ciccone – “Comedy and Justice: William Gaddis, Paul Beatty, and Political Imperfectionism”

Fabrizio Ciccone is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Brown University. His research focuses on the long 20th century on both sides of the Atlantic, with a special emphasis on the intellectual history of catastrophe and the political utility of comedy. His dissertation examines the phenomenon of cultural defeat, specifically how comedy has been used by artists and thinkers to understand the ongoing political, environmental, and economic catastrophes of the 20th and 21st centuries.  

Ryan Hacek – “Hegelian Agency and Communication in William Gaddis’s JR

Ryan Hacek received his Bachelors in English and Philosophy (with Minors in Political Science and Human Rights) from Purdue University. He created a Senior Thesis for the Purdue Honors College on Hegelian Agency in Postmodern Fiction (with particular emphasis on the economic metaphysics of William Gaddis’ JR). Ryan is currently attending New York University’s Masters Program in English and American Literature. 

Jeffery Severs – “J.R. Ewing and J.R. Vansant: The Archive, Television, and William Gaddis’s Problem with Dallas

Jeffrey Severs is associate professor of English at the University of British Columbia, the author of DAVID FOSTER WALLACE’S BALANCING BOOKS: FICTIONS OF VALUE (2017), and the coeditor of PYNCHON’S AGAINST THE DAY: A CORRUPTED PILGRIM’S GUIDE (2011). He has also published articles on postwar fiction in journals including CritiqueMELUSTextual PracticeModern Fiction Studies, and others.

12:15 – Lunch (on your own)

Closest lunch options: Whisper’s Cafe (Olin Library), Stanley’s Sushi & Tea (Lopata Hall), Subway (Mallinckrodt Center), DUC Dining (Danforth University Campus Center), Starbucks and Bauer Hall Café (Bauer Hall) – see Dining Services for menus

1:15 – Panel 3 – Greater Precision On Gaddis’ Form & Technique

Marie Fahd – “Interaction between Painting and Literature: Cubism in the Narrative Techniques in William Gaddis’s The Recognitions”

Marie Fahd received her PhD in American Literature from Paris Diderot University (Paris 7). Formerly a French lecturer at the University of Michigan, she completed her doctoral dissertation on William Gaddis’s The Recognitions. Her PhD thesis focused on centerlessness and cubism in the narrative techniques in The Recognitions and paved the way to a modern approach to the question of the origins. She currently works as a writing consultant in Paris, France. 

Martin Klebes – “Postdiegetic Prose: Dialogue in Gaddis”

Martin Klebes is Associate Professor of German at the University of Oregon, where he is also affiliated with the Robert Clark Honors College and the Department of Comparative Literature. He is the current editor of Konturen, an interdisciplinary German Studies journal, and the author of WITTGENSTEIN’S NOVELS (Routledge). Two main areas of his work are intertextuality and the relation of philosophy and literature.

John Soutter – “Gaddis, Vaihinger, Omnifiction”

John Soutter earned his PhD from Liverpool University UK with a dissertation titled ‘William Gaddis: Systems Novelist.’ He holds an MA in American Cultural Studies from Keele University UK and a BA (Hons II i) in English Language and Literature from Liverpool University UK.

2:45 – Roundtable 2 – Publishing in the Innovative Tradition:
a Conversation

Sponsored by Washington University English Department

The co-publishers of Dorothy and the director of New York Review Books discuss publishing both reissues of great works of formally innovative literature (including Gaddis) and new authors and books within this (broadly defined) tradition.

Danielle Dutton

Danielle Dutton is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Washington University. Her most recent book is the novel MARGARET THE FIRST; her fiction has also been published in such venues as The Paris ReviewHarper’sConjunctionsBOMB, and online at The New Yorker and Guernica. Dutton is the co-founder and editor of Dorothy, a publishing project.

Edwin Frank

Edwin Frank is the founder of the NYRB Classics series and the director of New York Review Books, the publishing program of the New York Review of Books. The author of Snake Train: Poems 1985-2013, he is currently at work on a book about the novel and the twentieth-century, to be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux.

Martin Riker

Martin Riker is a professor at Washington University and Director of the English Department’s new Publishing Concentration. Previously Associate Director of Dalkey Archive Press–where among other projects he oversaw Dalkey’s reissues of William Gaddis’s JR and THE RECOGNITIONSin 2009 he cofounded, with Danielle Dutton the acclaimed feminist publisher Dorothy, a publishing project. He is the author of two novels, including the THE GUEST LECTURE (forthcoming from Grove Press in January 2023) and his critical writing has appeared in publications including the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and London Review of Books

3:45 – Break

Light snacks, sodas and water available

4:00 – Art Presentations

Artists will introduce selections of their work that was inspired by the work of William Gaddis

David Bird – Music – Saloon Wars for 4 Disklavier Pianos and Stereo Tape Playback (2013)

Gaddis’ fascination with the player piano reflects a concern over the growing mechanization of art and commerce. The sentiment foreshadows many of the issues facing artists working at the intersection of art and digital technology, including concerns with copyability and artificial intelligence. Saloon Wars dramatizes Gaddis’ quote to a zany yet apocalyptic end, a bizarre post-human scene in which several player pianos “battle it out” until one is left standing.

Composed for four disklavier pianos (computer controlled pianos), Saloon Wars remixes over a dozen popular ragtime-era songs, fusing these fragmented performances with electronically processed material.

Edward Holland – Collages – The Depot Tavern Series (2020)

Artist’s Statement: “Collage has always been part of my process and in this small suite of works on paper, The Depot Tavern Series, I wanted the collage to be the focus. I like the overlap between how I use found text and imagery as collage and Gaddis’s use of conversation and found text within The Recognitions. Such layering of information is important as it builds an openness of interpretation. It is texture hinting at deeper truths. I made this series during the summer of 2020, while spending Covid lockdown in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The small, provisional studio I made for myself in the lower level of the cabin where my family and I were living became my daily retreat. I named it The Depot Tavern, and it was fresh out of griffin’s eggs.”

Thomas Verstraeten and Marie Vinck (of FC Bergman) – Theater – clips from J R (2019)

The FC Bergman stage adaptation of J R is grand in every sense, with 15 actors, plus 21 extras (including 7 children), 2 camera operators, 11 technicians, 27 crew members taking care of production, set, costumes, catering, … The set takes the lead part: a towering, 14-metre-high building which features 25 different locations, 8 beamers, 700 props, half a kilometre of trusses, 300 square meters of wall, five square kilometers of theatre drapes, and one limo.

Tim Youd – Diptychs – William Gaddis Retyped (2020-21)

To mark their Fall 2020 reissue by New York Review of Books, Youd retyped J R and The Recognitions back-to-back and livestreamed every Friday on Instagram for the three months it took, followed by a Zoom discussion with curators.

William Gaddis’s The Recognitions;  933 pages typed on an Olympia SM2 & SM3; January 25-April 10, 2021; from my garage in Los Angeles and on Twitch; in conjunction with Cristin Tierney Gallery and the New York Review of Books.

William Gaddis’s JR;  770 pages typed on an Olympia SM3 & Olivetti Lettera 32; Oct 20 – Dec 19, 2020; from my garage in Los Angeles and on Twitch; in conjunction with Cristin Tierney Gallery and the New York Review of Books.

5:00 – Roundtable 3 – Artists Inspired by Gaddis’s Work

After presenting their work, the artists will discuss with one another and with the audience their respective inspirations from Gaddis

David Bird

David Bird is a composer, producer, and multimedia artist based in New York City. His work explores the dramatic potential of electroacoustic and multimedia environments, often highlighting the relationships between technology and the individual. Bird’s compositions have been performed internationally, at many venues and festivals.

Bird is a founding member of the New York-based chamber ensemble TAK, regarded as “one of the most prominent ensembles in the United States practicing truly experimental music” (I Care If You Listen). He is also a co-artistic director of Qubit New Music, a non-profit group that curates and produces experimental music events in New York City. He has received many awards for his work and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.

Edward Holland

Edward Holland received his BFA in painting from Syracuse University and a MA in studio art from New York University. His work has been shown in galleries nationwide, including recent exhibitions with Hollis Taggart Gallery, Southport, CT; Club Gallery, Miami, FL; Northern Daughters, Vergennes, VT; and MM Fine Art, Southampton, NY. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition will be presented by the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (Brattleboro, VT) in Spring 2024. His work has been discussed in Tussle MagazineArtZealousThe Huffington Post and in Eyes Towards the Dove, among others. Holland lives in New York City.

Thomas Verstraeten and Stef Aerts (of FC Bergman)

FC Bergman was founded in 2008 by six actors / theatre-makers / artists: Stef Aerts, Joé Agemans, Bart Hollanders, Matteo Simoni, Thomas Verstraeten and Marie Vinck. FC Bergman has been a permanent Toneelhuis theatre-maker since 2013. In a short time, this group of makers has developed a highly unique theatrical idiom, which apart from being anarchistic and slightly chaotic, is essentially visual and poetic. Their productions often give center stage to the floundering, ever-striving human.

Tim Youd

Tim Youd (b. 1967, Worcester, MA) is a performance and visual artist working in painting, sculpture, and video. To date, he has retyped 77 novels at various locations in the United States and Europe. Residencies at historic writer’s homes have included William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak with the University of Mississippi Art Museum (Oxford, MS), Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia with SCAD (Milledgeville and Savannah, GA), and Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House (Rodmell, Sussex). His work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, including at CAM St. Louis, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest University, The New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Lancaster Museum of Art and History. He has presented and performed his 100 Novels project at the Arts Club of Chicago, Ackland Art Museum, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Art Omi, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) and LAXART, and retyped Joe Orton’s Collected Plays at The Queen’s Theatre with MOCA London. He is represented by Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York.  Youd lives in Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 22

Wilson Hall Room 214

9:00 – Panel 4 – Gaddis and Language

Paul Ingendaay – “The Most Curious Career: Gaddis in German”

Paul Ingendaay, born in 1961, holds a PhD in American Literature – his doctoral thesis, published in 1993, was about the aesthetics of Gaddis’s novels – from the University of Munich. He has been on the staff of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung for the last thirty years, first as literary editor, then as cultural correspondent in Madrid and Berlin. He is the award-winning author of novels, stories, and nonfiction books and has written largely about American literature throughout his career.

Jim Gauer – “Conspiracy of Language: The Ontological Intertwinement of Language, Self, and World in J R

Jim Gauer is a mathematician, computer scientist, philosopher, poet, novelist, and possibly the world’s only Marxist Venture Capitalist. He has advanced degrees in mathematics from UCLA and English literature from Johns Hopkins. He was born in Oakland and has lived in New York City, Paris, Lisbon, Brussels, Singapore, and Malasia. Jim is the author of NOVEL EXPLOSIVES, a novel, and BELABORING THE OBVIOUS, a collection of poems. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Matthew Clemmer – “’The whole digital machine, [the] whole binary system…’”: The Encoded Form of Gaddis’s J R

Matthew Clemmer is a PhD candidate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he is writing a dissertation about the influence of information technologies on the novel form between 1945 and 2000. He holds a MA in English from Southern Methodist University and a BA in English and Philosophy from Gordon College.

10:45 Panel 5 – Global Gaddis

Yonina Hoffman – “Crafting a Globe, with Ethics: Novelistic Totality and the Ending of The Recognitions

Yonina Hoffman received a PhD in literature from Ohio State University in 2019 and is now an Assistant Professor at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in New York

Francine Ozaki – “The Recognitions, by William Gaddis: Originality, Authenticity and Translation”

Francine Ozaki received her PhD in Literary Studies, focusing on Translation Studies, from Federal University of Paraná, in Brazil. Ozaki is a literary and technical translator, as well as a professor at Centro Universitário Santa Cruz (UniSantaCruz), in Curitiba, Brazil.

Jack Williams – “Bad Company: Banana Republics and American Empire in The Recognitions

Jack Williams received his BA in English from Queen’s University and his MA in English from the University of British Columbia. He currently lives and works in Kingston, Ontario.

12:15 – Lunch

American University Iraq Sulaimani is sponsoring a catered box lunch for attendees.

1:15 Roundtable 4 – Gaddis and Positionality and Marginalized Identities

Rone Shavers – “Reading Gaddis as a Radical Act”

Rone Shavers is author of the experimental Afrofuturist novel SILVERFISH (Clash Books 2020), a top-10 finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award in fiction and named a “Best Book of 2020” by The Brooklyn Rail. His fiction and non-fiction work has appeared in numerous journals, including American Book Review, Black Warrior Review, BOMB, Fiction Writers Review, and The Quarterly Conversation

Shavers is also fiction and hybrid genre editor at Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora, was co-curator of the art exhibition titled In Place of Now: Established and Emerging Artists Explore Black Identity through an Afrofuturist Lens, and has been awarded writer-in-residence fellowships to numerous institutions and locales. He teaches courses in fiction and contemporary literature at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, and has previously taught at the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf and at Northwestern University.

Jacob Singer – “The Racial Subject in A Frolic of His Own

Jacob Singer writes fiction and writes about fiction. He has published about William Gass and William Vollmann for Brooklyn Rail, reviewed Maximalism in Contemporary American Literature for Orbit: A Journal of American Literature, and reviewed William T. Vollmann: A Critical Companion. He served as the Small Press Release editor for Entropy for more than four years, and has presented “On Teaching Hysterical Realism”,  “Building Sentences with David Foster Wallace”, and “Complex Adaptive Systems and Inherent Vice.”

Jeff Jackson – “A Reparative Reading of Carpenter’s Gothic

Jeff Jackson is a novelist, playwright, songwriter, and visual artist. His first novel MIRA CORPORA (Two Dollar Radio, 2013) was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and picked one of the best books of the year in Salon and Slate. His latest novel DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018) received advanced praise from Don DeLillo, Ben Marcus, and Dana Spiotta and rave reviews from The New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR. Six of his plays have been produced by the Obie-Award winning Collapsable Giraffe theater company in New York City. 

2:15 Wrap-up / discussion on future Gaddis-scholar projects and collaborations

Come with ideas!