NeMLA 2020: Suspicion Today

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA

In the wake of the recent Postcritical Turn in literary studies, a pall has been cast over suspicious modes of analysis. Eve Sedgwick famously sought to move away from the paranoid imperative towards a more reparative relation; Sharon Best and Stephen Marcus have proposed surface reading as an antidote to symptomatic methodology; and, more recent still, Rita Felski has underscored the banality of suspicious hermeneutics as a central premise in her circumscription of the limits of critique. Outside of the academy, paranoia has become the dominant style of politics for right-wing demagogues who deploy fear-mongering and conspiracy theory under the guise of populism in order to channel popular disaffection into political movements with profoundly racist and xenophobic underpinnings. Some have argued that this development in the political realm has sounded the death knell for suspicious thought as an effective foundation for collective resistance on the left. With all of these forces seeming to conspire against its precepts, what critical, political or ethical merit can suspicious thinking still be said to hold? Has critical theory grown out of its suspicious mindset? If so, what are the plausible alternatives to suspicion as an epistemological tool? Accepted papers will engage thoroughly with these questions and will consider the topic of suspicion in any of its various manifestations: as a literary theme, as a critical hermeneutic, as a political stance, as an aesthetic and so on. These papers will collectively address the question of how to assess the merits and shortcomings of suspicion today. Send abstract (max. 300 words) and a short bio (max. 50 words) to t.lem.smith@mail.utoronto.ca.