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1984 in 2017: A Symposium

April 14,

Friday, 10am-6pm

Iowa City Public Library, Room A



Public Space One



After Kellyanne Conway coined the phrase “alternative facts” in January, Orwell’s novel shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, and has remained in the top five best sellers ever since.  While generations of Americans read the novel (usually in high school) as a cold war vision of a totalitarian dystopia, readers are now noting prescient correlations to current events. What does it mean to live in a world where dystopian fiction resembles reality? Are there lessons to be learned? Can the tide be turned? Are contemporary authors exploring a dystopian future that is similarly harrowing? What role does literature play in our current political moment?

1984 in 2017 Symposium Schedule 

Friday, April 14.  Iowa City Public Library

10 – 10:15                   Coffee and Pastries

10:15 – 10:30              Loren Glass & John Kenyon, Opening Remarks

10:30 – 11:30              Understanding Newspeak

                                    Loren Glass, Chair

Jason Livingston, “What is so-called “fake news”?”  

Rob Cline, The Unwritten, writing, erasure, revision, and power

11:30 – Noon              Workshop:  Daniel Boscaljon, “American Newspeak”

Noon – 1                     Lunch Break

1 – 2:15                       Women Writers’ Dystopian Visions

                                    Kathrina Litchfield, Chair

Pat Dolan, on Margaret Atwood 

Ellen Kuehnle, on Octavia Butler

Maryanne Rasmussen, on The Hunger Games


2:30 – 4                       Dystopia (and Utopia!) Now

                                    Loren Glass, Chair

Charles Williams, "The Work of Art in the Age of the Zombie Apocalypse" 

Kelly Budruweit, "The Political (Re)visions of Science Fiction and Fantasy" 

Kathryn Heffner, “We should all have Red Journals: Using Dystopian Fiction to Inspire Resistant Writing Practices”

4 – 4:30                       Coffee Break

4:30 – 5:45                  Surveillance

                                    Kathrina Litchfield, Chair

Nicholas Kelly, “A Survey of Surveillance: An Overview of Electronic Mass Communications Collection in Fiction, Film, and Interactive Media since Snowden”

Vera Rose Smith, “Retail Architecture and the Rise of Self-Surveillance”

Stephen Voyce, “Orwell in Waziristan"


                                  Evening Events at PS1.  8-10 PM


Kate Running, Jennifer Masada, Heidi Wiren Bartlett, LUCIA (live performance art piece with original music score)

Ryan Furlong, “Walt Whitman Singing the Donald J. Trump” (4-6 min Poetry Reading)

Scott Bradley, Jen Shook, Buffy Quintero, The Trumpeting Rhinoceros, a performative reading, followed by panel discussion with Jennifer Buckley, Matthew Hannah, and Juan-Pablo Hourcade