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Symposium: Unidentifiable Literary Objects

Emma Cocker
Conferences | Public lectures | Seminars

Delivered by the School of Arts and Humanities at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), this symposium explores the nature and possibilities of the unidentifiable literary object (ULO). Featuring international speakers including Hélène Cixous, Marie-Dominique Garnier, Sarah Wood and Nicholas Royle, it brings together the work of writers and scholars whose own texts play at the intersections between creative and critical theory and practice.

  • From: Friday 29 June 2018, 9.45 am
  • To: Friday 29 June 2018, 5.30 pm
  • Location: Lecture Theatre 7, Nottingham Trent University, Newton building, Goldsmith Street, Nottingham, NG1 4BU
  • Cost: Standard fee £25; student fee, £15
  • Booking deadline: Thursday 28 June 2018, 5.00 pm
  • Download this event to your calendar

Past event

Event details

In H.C. pour la vie, c’est a dire… (2000/2006) Jacques Derrida describes his first reading of Hélène Cixous’s writing as an encounter with an ‘unidentifiable literary object’ [objet littéraire non identifiable] or ‘ULO’: ‘What is this? I asked myself more or less. What is happening here? What is happening to me? What genre? Who could ever read this?’ The ULO ‘arrived like a meteor in my garden’, he remarks elsewhere, recalling the ‘double feeling’ of ‘dazzlement and anxiety’ it engendered (‘From the Word to Life’, 2004/2006). The ULO is, of course, the domain of both Derrida and Cixous: their texts stretch genre, press at the limits of creative and critical thinking, and open up the differences between constative and performative modes of writing.

This symposium aims to explore the nature and possibilities for such unidentifiable literary objects, engaging with the potential of ULOs to enable us to think, read and write in radically new ways.

Speakers include:

  • Hélène Cixous, French feminist critic and theorist, novelist, and playwright (via Skype)
  • Dr Clare Connors, Senior Lecturer, School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, University of East Anglia
  • Professor Marie-Dominique Garnier, Professor of English Literature and Gender Studies, University of Paris 8 (formerly Vincennes)
  • Eric Prenowitz, Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds ( via Skype)
  • Professor Nicholas Royle, Professor of English (Centre for Literature and Philosophy, Centre for Creative and Critical Thought), University of Sussex
  • Professor Judith Still, Professor of French & Critical Theory, Faculty of Arts, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Sarah Wood, Reader in English Literature and Literary Theory, University of Kent, Director of Critical Theory MA and editor of the Oxford Literary Review

This symposium forms part of the ongoing work by NTU’s Critical Poetics Research Group.


9.30 am – 10 am Registration and refreshments

Newton building,
Forum Level 0 (outside LT7)

10 am – 10.15 amDr Sarah Jackson
Nottingham Trent University
Welcome Newton LT7
10.15 am – 11.05 amDr Clare Connors
University of East Anglia
Novel Criticism: or ‘certain naive movements of identification’ Newton LT7
11.05 am – 11.55 amProfessor Nicholas
Royle University of Sussex
All Wards Newton LT7
11.55 am –12.10 pm Refreshments Forum Level 0
12.10 pm – 1 pmProfessor Judith Still
University of Nottingham
Refusing Consumption and Querying Genre:
a partial reading of Maryse Condé and Marie NDiaye
Newton LT7
1 pm – 2 pm Lunch Forum Level 0
2 pm – 2.50 pmProfessor Hélène Cixous
European Graduate School,
In conversation with Dr Eric Prenowitz 
University of Leeds – via Skype
  Newton LT7
2.50 pm – 3. 40 pm

Dr Sarah Wood
University of Kent

‘And a Rat that Could Speak’: a Curiosity Newton LT7
3.40 pm – 4 pm Refreshments Forum Level 0
4 pm – 4.20 pmProfessor Laurent Milesi
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
De-monstrating Monsters:
Some Unmastering Strategies in Cixous and Derrida
Newton LT7
4.20 pm – 5.10 pm

Professor Marie-Dominique Garnier
University of Paris VIII

CIXOUS CI-FI: The Attack of the Flying Leaves Newton LT7
5.10 pm – 5.15 pmClosing Remarks  Newton LT7
5.15 pm – 6.15 pmDrinks reception Forum Level 0
6.15 pm – 7.30 pmUnidentifiable Literary Objects – Gabriel Josipovici, in conversation with Nicholas Royle  Newton LT3

Reserve your place

To reserve your place please visit the NTU Online Store.

Standard registration fee: £25
Student registration fee*: £15 

*please note students will be asked to show their student identification at registration on the day.

This event is open to the general public, students and staff, booking fees apply.

Public event by Gabriel Josipovici, 6.15 pm – 7.30 pm

Gabriel Josipovici in conversation with Nicholas Royle

Gabriel Josipovici is a British novelist, short story writer, critic, literary theorist, and playwright, and is described in the Guardian as ‘one of the very best writers now at work in the English language.’ His latest novel, The Cemetery in Barnes,was published by Carcanet in March 2018.

Nicholas Royle is Professor of English at the University of Sussex, where he is a director of the Centre for Creative and Critical Thought. His second novel, An English Guide to Birdwatching, was published by Myriad in 2017. Read more.


For all enquiries about this event please email Jo Dixon, Research Assistant in Critical Poetics or call +44 (0)115 848 3138.

Image courtesy of Emma Cocker.

Location details


Lecture Theatre 7, Nottingham Trent University


Newton building
Goldsmith Street


There is no parking available at the University itself, but there are many car parking facilities within a couple of minutes walking distance. The nearest car park is Talbot Street Car Park. If using this car park, please exit onto Chaucer Street.

Travel Info:

To plan your journey to the NTU City Campus, please visit the Get Directions Page on the NTU website.

Past event

Still need help?

Jo Dixon, Research Assistant in Critical Poetics
+44 (0)115 848 3138