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Talk: Post-Mortem Mailer - A Retrospective on America's Journalist and Critic
Date: 26 March 2008 (Wednesday)

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures is pleased to present a

talk by:

Dr. John Whalen-Bridge
Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore


'Post-Mortem Mailer:  A Retrospective on America's Journalist and Critic'

Date: March 26, 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Venue: M122, Main Building

Since his first novel, The Naked and the Dead, was published in1948, Norman Mailer has written some forty books, including novels, essays, political journalism, poetry, drama, and screenplays. In his contemporary-history novels and in wide-ranging nonfiction prose, Mailer has produced works of bristling literary intelligence. References to his writing appear in discussions of the sexual revolution in twentieth-century writing, of writers who challenge the border between literature and politics, and of postwar countercultural movements. His most important achievement has been the bridging of the novelistic imagination and nonfictional writing in a movement known as the New Journalism, which includes such writers as Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay Talese. No New Journalist, however, has produced the range of works Mailer has, and no other American writer has mixed fictional and nonfictional modes in such various and skillful ways.  Mailer’s personal life, like his literary career, has been dramatic and various. He ran for mayor of New York (1969), won Pulitzer Prizes in 1968 and1980, was nominated for an Emmy for the screenplay to the television version of The Executioner's Song in 1983, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1984, and in 1987 directed his third feature-length film. It is uncontroversial to say that Mailer has been among the most controversial American writers of the 20th-century.Now, after sixty years of publication, Mailer has stopped writing.  The question about whether he is important as a major writer, journalist, or as a cultural symptom is a function in large part of the critical suppositions we bring to the work, which are themselves symptoms of our own ideological formation.  A review of Mailer will help us understand the interconnections between academic and popular constructions of American history, journalism, and culture.

For further information, please contact Ms. Alice Tse at 2859 2001 or

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