CFP: Signifying Loss in Contemporary African American Literature (9/15/05; NEMLA, 3/2/06-3/5/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Lisa Perdigao
contact email: 
lperdiga@fit.edu

Signifying Loss in Contemporary African American Literature

The Northeast Modern Language Association Convention
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 2-5, 2006

In Passed On, Karla Holloway writes, “The twentieth century rehearsed,
nearly to perfection, a relentless cycle of cultural memory and black
mourning” (7). This panel draws on recent critical work that raises
questions about the relationship between the past and the present, the
tension between a need for repression and a need for recovery, the vexed
relations implicit in the term “passed on.” As Holloway posits that
“cultural memory and black mourning” characterize a twentieth century,
contemporary African American literature represents this “relentless
cycle.” In poetry, the elegy traditionally laments loss and becomes an
active site of mourning. While neo-slave narratives actively revisit and
revise a literary and historical tradition, oftentimes contemporary
African American texts focus on the attempts to forget, to enable a
progression and guarantee a viable future. Throughout contemporary African
American literature are struggles with loss and attempts at recovery. As
contemporary African American writers define and reconfigure their
relationships to literary and historical traditions, they struggle with
the influence of the past on the present, the tension between the need to
remember and the attempt to move on.

This panel will consider how contemporary African American literature
represents cultural memory and signifies loss. While Holloway’s study (and
many works in the field) explores the representation of death in African
American literature and culture more generally, the attempts to signify
loss are not only acts of mourning. As contemporary African American
writers struggle to define what constitutes cultural memory and work
toward remembrance, they face the gap between absence and presence, the
very limits of loss. Loss is rooted in not only the absence of an
individual (or, more precisely, the body to death) but also in the loss of
the past, of a connection to a tradition; these losses signify points of
origination for both models of repression and acts of recovery. This panel
will explore the significance of loss (and its counter-drives) to works of
contemporary African American literature. Approaches might address (but
are not limited to) the following questions: How do contemporary African
American writers represent loss? How does language bridge (or make
glaringly obvious) the gap between absence and presence? What is the
influence of the past on contemporary African American literature?

Deadline for 1-2 page abstracts is September 15, 2005. Please send them
via email along with your vitae to Dr. Lisa Perdigao at lperdiga_at_fit.edu
or in hard copy to

Dr. Lisa K. Perdigao
Department of Humanities and Communication
Florida Institute of Technology
150 West University Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901-6975

All accepted panelists must be NEMLA members. For more information about
the convention see http://www.nemla.org.

         ==========================================================
              From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
                        CFP_at_english.upenn.edu
                         Full Information at
                     http://cfp.english.upenn.edu
         or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
         ==========================================================
Received on Thu Jun 23 2005 - 16:34:44 EDT

cfp categories: 
african-american