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Learning Laboratory: Prof. Russell Williams on the Novels of Self-Isolation

In this episode of the Learning Laboratory video series, Professor Russel Williams discusses less well-known novels that explore the theme of self-isolation and just might tell us something about what it means to hide ourselves away in 2020. As Williams explains, “Many of us have been annoyed and irritated by the practice of self-isolation. There is, however, a significant number of novels that take retreat, withdrawal and staying-in as an inspiration. What can we learn from them?”

About Professor Russell Williams

Russell Williams is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the American University of Paris. He has published widely on the contemporary French novel, including his monograph Pathos, poetry and politics in Michel Houellebecq's fiction (Brill, 2019). He is co-editor of the forthcoming Contemporary Fiction in French (Cambridge University Press).  His research considers the relationships between poetry, literary fiction, popular culture and the attention economy.


Articles and books mentioned in the video:

  • Russell Williams, ‘The Novels of Self -Isolation’, 3am Magazine
  • Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation (London: Cape, 2018)
  • Jean-Philippe Toussaint, La Salle de Bain (Paris: Minuit, 2005)
  • Georges Perec, Un Homme qui Dort (Paris: Denoël, 1967)
  • Eugène Ionesco, Le Solitare (Paris: Mercure de France, 1972)