Race and Renovation in the Contemporary Novel (NeMLA 2019)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA Annual Convention - Washington D.C. - 21-24 March, 2019


This panel seeks to open a conversation about how formal experiments in the contemporary American novel attempt to find new ways to discuss race, and what these experiments might signal about the future of the novel.

From Carmen Maria Machado’s engagement with the genres of horror and fairy tale, to Celeste Ng’s engagement with mystery genres, from Paul Beatty’s use of satire to Colson Whitehead’s use of speculative fiction—many contemporary writers have individually pushed representations of racialized experience out of traditional or conventional formulations. Genre fiction has provided a way to renovate novelistic discussions of race; formal experiments in the novel form have also shifted the possibilities of how racially-coded is experience is represented—or, for that matter, coded. In many ways, changes in form and genre can change how contemporary American culture conceives of the constructed category of race.

Asking questions about the current state and possible futures of the contemporary novel dovetails with other conversations about genre and race across other media; from the horror genres of Get Out to the speculative themes of Black Panther, movies and other popular media can also inspire or follow the influence of the trends in the contemporary novel.

This panel seeks papers addressing novels, but welcomes discussions of the novel in relation to other art forms. Papers are also welcome to challenge the notion of convention or tradition in terms of addressing or discussing race, within and against contemporary trends. Case studies about particular formal experiments, or broad reflections on general trends, are all welcome.


Please submit 300 word abstracts alongside a short bio before September 30th (confirmation will be sent by October 15th) through the NeMLA submission page: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17597

Inquiries also welcome.

Applicants are not required to be NeMLA members at the time of submission but accepted speakers will have to become members by December 1st, 2018.