2017 The Return of Conrad

2017, which marks the 160th anniversary of Conrad’s birth, has been recognized by the Polish Parliament as the year of Conrad, with funding announced, and a call for cultural and artistic projects in Poland to celebrate and promote Conrad’s life, work, and heritage. See the Embassy announcement for further details.

A note from the JCSA President, Paul Armstrong:

I am writing to share some news from this winter’s business meeting and dinner at the MLA convention in Philadelphia. The dinner was a delightful, convivial affair at the Buddakan restaurant (thanks to JCSA Vice President Peter Mallios for organizing it). Appropriately for its name, the restaurant featured a statue of a mammoth Buddha which, reminding all of us of Marlow on the deck of the Nellie, glowered at us impassively as we conducted our business. I am glad to report that this had no effect on the buoyant mood of the festivities!

The election of the new Second Vice President was announced: Joyce Wexler, professor of English at Loyola University Chicago, a long-time JCSA member and past trustee. Joyce’s new book Violence Without God: The Rhetorical Despair of Twentieth-Century Writers has just been published by Bloomsbury (2017). After two-year terms as Second and First V.P., Joyce will serve as President of the Society in 2021-22.

Three new trustees were elected at the dinner for three-year terms: Katherine Baxter (University of Northumbria at Newcastle), Julie Beth Napolin (Eugene Lang College, New School University), and Seamus O’Malley (Yeshiva University). They replace the three trustees whose terms ended at the dinner: Anne Luyat, David Mulry, and Stephen Ross.

Jennifer Janechek, a doctoral student at the University of Iowa, was presented with the 2016 Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Award for her outstanding essay “The Horror of the Primal Sound:  Proto-telephony and Imperialism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” which is forthcoming in The Conradian. Honorable mention was awarded to Jarica Watts, assistant professor of English at Brigham Young University, for her excellent essay “‘What Could His Object Be?:  Form and Materiality in Conrad’s ‘The Tale,’” which is forthcoming in the collection Conrad and Nature, edited by Jack Peters, Jeff McCarthy, and Lissa Schneider-Rebozo and scheduled for publication by Routledge.

It was also announced that Robert Hampson’s book Conrad’s Secrets (London: Palgrave, 2012) has won the 2015 Adam Gillon Book Award in Conrad Studies. Second place was awarded to Wiesław Krajka’s edition From Szlachta Culture to the 21st Century, Between East and West: New Essays on Joseph Conrad (East European Monographs, 2013), and third place went to John G. Peters for his book Joseph Conrad’s Critical Reception (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Several proposals for the JCSA’s guaranteed special session at the 2018 MLA Convention were discussed, and the proposal selected was “Conrad: Autocracy and War.” Organized by Anne Luyat and Debra Romanick Baldwin, this session will explore Conrad’s understanding of the politics of fear and its consequences in the eponymous essay and its companion works including The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. A nonguaranteed session “Precarious Lives in Conrad and Ford” has also been submitted as a joint effort of the Ford Madox Ford Society and the JCSA, organized by myself and Seamus O’Malley, the president of the Ford Madox Ford Society and a new JCSA trustee.

I am delighted to observe an extraordinary amount of international conference activity devoted to Conrad this coming summer and fall. Immediate past JCSA president Chis GoGwilt has organized a conference at Fordham in early June entitled “Conradian Crosscurrents: Creativity and Critique,” also hosted by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York and the Kościuszko Foundation. In addition to the annual meeting of the Joseph Conrad Society (U.K.) in London, the Société Conradienne Française has issued a call for papers for a conference “Between Texts and Theory: Transnational Conrad” to be held in September at the University of Limoges, with the support of the Associazione Italiana di Studi Conradiani. The Joseph Conrad Society of Japan will hold its third international conference in Tokyo in November.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our next annual dinner and business meeting at the 2018 MLA Convention in New York City.

All best wishes,

Paul Armstrong (May 2017)

David Miller, who many will know fondly from the UK Conrad society meetings, has just passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, after suffering a heart attack on Christmas Eve. David was loved by many, and known for his boundless and irreverent wit, and his searching love of all things Conrad.

He came to Conrad studies from a distinctive perspective as a highly respected literary agent in London.  In his own right, along with criticism on Conrad, he was the author of Today, a  novel recounting Conrad's death, and recently edited, That Glimpse of Truth, an anthology selection of fine short fiction. Those who knew him will remember a man so full of life that it beggars belief to think of him gone. Here is a tribute from The Bookseller.

Adam Gillon Book Awards: Robert Hampson has been awarded the first place prize for the Adam Gillon Book Award in Conrad Studies for 2015 for Conrad's Secrets (London: Palgrave, 2012).  Second and third place winners are respectively: 2) From Szlachta Culture to the 21st Century, Between East and West: New Essays on Joseph Conrad’s Polishness edited by Wiesław Krajka (East European Monographs, 2013); and 3) John G. Peters' Joseph Conrad's Critical Reception (Cambridge University Press, 2013). All the winners will be celebrated and the first-place prize formally awarded at the Joseph Conrad Society of America's annual business meeting to be held at the Modern Language Association's annual convention in January 2017.

MLA business meeting, dinner, and JCSA panel on "Conrad's Animals. The business meeting and dinner will take place on January 6th at 6:30 pm at Buddakan, 325 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The price is $55 ($25 for graduate students). For reservations and to make a secure credit card payment, please request a PayPal invoice (preferred method; no personal PayPal account required) by writing to Mark Larabee at by 15 December. To pay by check, please send an email to Mark to make your reservation, and send a check (made out to "The Joseph Conrad Society of America") to him at P.O. Box 1052, Silverdale, WA 98383.

The Ian P. Watt Prize for Excellence in Conrad Scholarship for 2015 is awarded to J. Hillis Miller for his many contributions to the study of Joseph Conrad's work, ranging from his seminal readings of "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim in Poets of Reality (Harvard, 1965) and Fiction and Repetition (1981) to his recent work on Nostromo in Communities of Fiction (Fordham, 2014). A collected volume of his essays on Conrad is currently being co-edited by Jakob Lothe and John G. Peters.

The Bruce Harkness Young Scholar Award for 2015 is awarded to Jay Parker (PhD candidate at Leeds University) for his essay "'He was one of us': Rortyan Liberal Ethnocentrism and Ironic Narrative Voice in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim." Honorable mention is given to Brendan Kavanagh for "'Dirty weather': Typhoon's Metereology and MacWhirr's Point of View."

Robert Caserio and Jarica Watts were elected as Trustees (from an especially strong and competitive roster of potential trustee candidates). Congratulations to them and thanks to the outgoing trustees, Brian Artese and Alexia Hannis.

The Society approved the submission of three panels for next year's MLA: Conrad's Animals, proposed by Stephen Ross, will be the Society's guaranteed panel; Conrad and Mimetic Theories, proposed by Nidesh Lawtoo, will be submitted as an additional, non-guaranteed session; and Conrad and Lawrence at Sea, proposed by Joyce Wexler, will be submitted as a collaborative session in collaboration with the D. H. Lawrence Society. (See our website, or the MLA site for the CFP's for these panels.)


Please send relevant news items to David Mulry at