Cognitive Mapping in American Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
North East Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

How do American writers who exist in two or more different spaces at the same time cognitively map their experience? Cognitive mapping, an “aesthetic” first called for by Frederic Jameson, is a strategy of disalienation that combines the phenomenological mapping of one’s own subjectivity in a spatial totality with the “Althusserian  . . . redefinition of ideology as ‘the representation of the subject’s Imaginary relationship to his or her Real conditions of existence.’” Although Jameson calls for such mapping as a response to the subject forming or, alternatively, the subject alienating cultural force of  multi-national capitalism and uses the term as a code for “class consciousness,” this panel posits that writers map different kinds of  consciousness (class, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality,  religion) as a response to wider cultural or ideological representations. Examples of writers who exist in simultaneous spaces include American expatriate writers, immigrant or first generation American writers, and “minority” American writers (those for whom, as Victor Villanueva puts it, becoming “American” was hardly a choice for themselves or their ancestors). Some questions prospective panelists might address are: How do particular writers or poets represent a social totality (whether it’s local, national, or global; discursive or physical)? How do they grasp their positioning as individual and collective subjects in such social totalities? Do they do so directly, say, through political discourse, or more indirectly through such things as dialogism, the mapping of the body in social space, poetic processes or style? How does one kind of consciousness or cognitive mapping intersect with another or others? All genres of American literature will be considered for this panel.

This is panel 17580 that will be held at the 2019 NeMLA convention in Washington D.C. from March 21-24. To submit an abstract go to the NeMLA portal, create a free user account, and upload your abstract.