Atrocity Literatures: Othering or Solidarity?

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast MLA
contact email: 

Papers will be presented as part of a panel at the 2019 Northeast MLA convention in Washington D.C., which will take place from March 21-24, 2019.

Proposals must be submitted by September 30, 2018. For enquiries, contact Gayatri Devi at

Since Frederic Jameson made his over-quoted, polemical, over-reified, almost clichéd postulation that third world literatures are national allegories in “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism” (Social Text, 1986), it would not be inaccurate to affirm that first world response to third world literatures—the term “third-world” encompassing vastly differing cultures and nations—indeed puts into practice a “social justice” approach to the reading of third-world literatures.  Third-world literatures are often read historiographically as social texts in the first world.  Third world authors speak as national subjects or exiles of their respective nations, and the literary significance of third-world texts is discussed in the language of new historicism, as social, cultural and historical documents. Third-world writers are subjected to a literary othering simply by virtue of geography. A quick look at university courses that teach “human rights literature,” “testimonial literature,” and “atrocity literatures,” evidence a preference for non-western third world literature for the reading list, with the exception of “holocaust literature,” that predominantly teaches western “canonical” texts.

This session seeks to explore the positionality of “atrocity literature” within the larger discipline of world literature. Possible questions include but are not limited to the following:

  • the relationship between atrocity literature and testimonial writing
  • atrocity literature
  • nationalism, subalternity, atrocity literatures
  • atrocity literatures, definitions, variations, patterns
  • atrocity literature in the first world
  • atrocity literature and international human rights literature
  • atrocity literature and carceral texts
  • resistance to atrocity literature
  • atrocity literature and international criminal law
  • atrocity literature and transnational feminism
  • exilic writing and atrocity literature
  • atrocity literature and religious difference
  • atrocity literature and world reception studies et al.

Proposals of 300 words must be submitted via the NeMLA portal where submitters will set up a free account and upload their abstracts.