The Ethics of World Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA_
contact email: 

World Literature Forum:  The Ethics of World Literature

NeMLA/ Pittsburgh, PA/ April 12-15, 2018

Deadline:  September 30, 2017


The World Literature Working Group of NeMLA invites submissions to participate in a roundtable discussion at next year's NeMLA convention, where the keynote speaker at this conference will be Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence:  The Environmentalism of the Poor.  

This roundtable is organized by NeMLA World Literature Working Group as a yearly forum for discussing theoretical and historical issues, pedagogy and curriculum, and new directions in the field of world literature. We invite world literature scholars and practitioners to take part in the meaningful dialogue on the term "world literature," and its relation to the fields of postcolonial and comparative literature, as well as to share their approaches to teaching specific courses or curriculum building. This year's theme is "the ethics of world literature," but proposals on other topics are welcome as well. 

Last year, our group was struck by the number of concerns people raised over which works to choose for their world literature courses, based in part on a set of competing desires. On the one hand, we want people to be open to world literature and overcome its "foreignness." So there is temptation to teach relatively easy works that minimize difference. But perhaps challenging students to reckon with difference (and with difficult texts) is part of the job we should be doing. Should we teach lesser-known works, or greatest hits, when we know students may take only one course in world literature? 

Please submit a 300-word abstract via the NeMLA portal, accessible here:

You need not be a member to submit an abstract, but all presenters must be NeMLA members by the time of the convention.

Possible topics may include: 
The ethics of encounter 
The ethics of teaching minor texts in WL
WL and social justice
WL and environmental justice 
Narrative ethics 

Please contact Monika Giacoppe ( or Alla Ivanchikova ( with any questions.