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English and Creative Writing

&NOW Conference

Every other year (or so), &NOW BOOKS at Lake Forest College published an anthology of called The &NOW Awards: the Best Innovative Writing. The anthology features published works - the hardest hitting and most provocative pieces out there.

See http://andnowfestival.com/ for the most recent news about &NOW and our conferences.


&NOW History

The &NOW Conference of Innovative Writing & the Literary Arts was founded in 2004 at the University of Notre Dame. In 2006, the Conference was hosted by Lake Forest College. In 2008, by Chapman University. In 2009, was hosted by the University at Buffalo, SUNY. 2011 saw the conference return to the west coast at University of California - San Diego. In June 2012, &NOW held it’s first overseas iteration: at the Sorbonne in Paris. 

&NOW is a unique conference in that its primary investment is thinking about the nature of innovative writing: which is to say, writing that defies easy categorization whether it is described as experimental, avant-garde, hybrid, or cross genre; whether it is called surfiction, avant-pop, or postmodern. These are, however, the terms under question in order to initiate an inquiry into why innovative writings tend to slip outside easy examination. The work of the conference is therefore to examine what role the innovative plays: how it functions with respect to more traditional expressions of writing; how it explores the limits of language and form; how meaningful its political expressions may be. In short, &NOW participants tend to consider what, at base, the innovative can do - and whether it should do anything at all.

As such, &NOW writers tend to think across traditional rifts that suggest issues of theory and praxis are autonomous concepts. Instead, &NOW participants are interested in collapsing that divide, in thinking through how praxis and theory are inherently related constructs, how creative thinking is nothing short of a critical practice, and how critical practices arise and rely on creative alignments. It might be said that &NOW writers - in their differing modes - are self-consciously aware of their own production: the language that gives their work shape, the history that gives context to their work’s form.

&NOW therefore strives to bring together a wide range of writers whose chief mode of inquiry is focused on the possibilities of form, the limits of language, and the future of artistic expression in its manifold representations. &NOW writers are particularly interested in writings which defy easy inclusion in any literary genre, which think across forms and borrow techniques and strategies from one another in order to reflect on the current status of aesthetic expression.

At &NOW, writers have the opportunity to exchange works in progress and, above all, to challenge each other to advance the dialogue about the role the literary act continues to play in the contemporary moment.