Opening & Vanishing Cities: Urban Space & Contemporary Fiction (Panel 17466)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Michael Antonucci/ 2019 Northeast Modern Langauge Association Convention
contact email: 

       DEADLINE EXTENDED to 9.30.18                                               

Following on the writing of Hannah Arendt, Cathy Caruth’s work on trauma and narrative points to a “new history of disappearance.”

This panel seeks to explore that “new history” in the context of the transnational space crafted within rhetorics of the American city in contemporary fiction.

Writers like Teju Cole, Don DeLillo, and Leslie Marmon Silko expand on those rhetorics—addressing denial and moments of obsessive return—as flight, escape, and migration define their characters’ imaginative renderings of cities, once boundaries have vanished, limits are reached, the fence lines fail and open range surrounds them. Within moments of “return,” memory enters these writers’ work, sometimes blocked or hesitating, at other points fluid; their characters find themselves attached to or departing from larger communal narratives.

This panel seeks to explore and track convergences of written, historic, and geographic displacements by collecting malleable insights redrawn in communal narratives “constituted by the way [they] disappear from consciousness.” We invite contributions that respond to literary projects and writerly alignments by asking: How does displacement, lore, and forgetting redefine urban space? Where do succession patterns from block to tower, or block to “blight,” begin and end? When does Washington fade and Leningrad begin? Possible points of exploration include: lines between fiction and nonfiction in urban fiction, Americans’ peculiar nostalgia for Cold War grandeur, early "unification movements" around 9/11 (e.g. "orange alert" Rumsfeld, and duct-taped windows"). We are equally interested in literary responses to the (in)ability to craft clear, historical narratives regarding urban unrest ("the riots") of the 1960s across larger (trans)national consciousness.

Join us for a Round Table Style discussion of up to 8 participants: brief presentations outlining core questions, concerns and approaches, followed by exchanges among panelists and conversation between participants and audience. We are panel number 17466

Sumbit Abstracts for NeMLA 50th anniversary convention here:

9.30.18 Deadiine

Questions Contact: Michael Antonucci (

50th NeMLA Anniversary Convention |Washington, DC | March 21-24, 2019