Art, Responsibility, and Satire: The Challenges of Kurt Vonnegut’s Fiction

(Panel)


American/Diaspora

Jeffrey Hotz (East Stroudsburg University)

Kurt Vonnegut’s fourteen novels and three short story collections, written over the course of five decades, express complex, sometimes shifting views about the meaning of art and the dimensions of human responsibility. Throughout his fiction, Vonnegut remained a committed satirist. Over a series of interviews with The Paris Review in the 1970s, Vonnegut described fiction itself as an inherently humorous endeavor: “If you make people laugh or cry about little black marks on sheets of white paper, what is that but a practical joke? All the great story lines are great practical jokes that people fall for over and over again.”

This panel seeks papers that explore the challenges of Kurt Vonnegut’s fiction, particularly in relation to his evolving artistic vision in the various phases of his career; his speculations about human agency and responsibility; and his use of satire and humor. Papers may focus on single works or multiple books, and consider any number of topics and subtopics that touch on these larger themes.

Kurt Vonnegut’s fourteen novels and three short story collections, written over the course of five decades, express complex, sometimes shifting views about the meaning of art and the dimensions of human responsibility. Throughout his fiction, Vonnegut remained a committed satirist. This panel seeks papers that explore the challenges of Vonnegut’s fiction, particularly in relation to his evolving artistic vision in the various phases of his career; his speculations about human agency and responsibility; and his use of satire and humor. Papers may focus on single works or multiple books, and consider any number of topics and subtopics that touch on these larger themes.