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Panel: Alternate Histories {Phoenix, AZ}

As part of: NonfictioNOW 2018 Conference

Alternate Histories
Erik Anderson, Mary-Kim Arnold, J'Lyn Chapman, Angela Pelster, & Michael Steinberg

This panel takes its inspiration from the question posed by Rilke's protagonist in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: “Is it possible that the whole history of the world has been misunderstood?” In this passage, Malte questions whether history has incorrectly paid its attention to the masses instead of to “the one person they were standing around because he was a stranger and was dying.” While this supposition about history's making is not new—we see it reflected in Aristotle’s privileging of poetry over history—this panel proposes that not only can imaginative interpretations better help us to understand the past, they can also recover voices and perspectives that have been subsumed in grand narratives that perpetuate notions of the universal subject. In this panel, we will consider how creative nonfiction can treat the past as both contingent and knowable through imaginative interventions and innovations in form.