CFP: The Law of Genre (3/15/07; MLA '07)

full name / name of organization: 
margaret ronda
contact email: 

CFP: "The Law of Genre"
A Panel of the MLA Graduate Student Caucus, MLA 2007

The Graduate Student Caucus, an affiliate organization of the MLA, is
pleased to invite current graduate students to submit proposals for
twenty-minute papers for a panel discussion titled "The Law of Genre" at th=
2007 MLA annual meeting, 12/27/07-12/30/07 in Chicago. This panel will
investigate the uses, injunctions, and limits of genre as mode of
literary-historical analysis, discursive convention, and longstanding
subject of philosophical and theoretical scrutiny.

In his essay "The Law of Genre," Derrida argues that "contamination"
necessarily inheres in a generic demarcation, in that the very mark or
"citation" of genre within a text "unmarks" that text. "Every text
participates in one or several genres," he writes, "yet such participation
never amounts to belonging." A quarter-century later, genre continues to
be, in Derrida's terms, a "law," a crucial classificatory mechanism, a
common language threading through otherwise radically disparate modes of
textual engagement. Yet in the wake of such poststructuralist accounts,
critics have placed new emphasis on the disciplinary functions of genre, on
what exceeds or escapes generic classification in a given text, and on the
historical dynamism and mutability of genres.

This panel aims to explore the simultaneous reliance on and skepticism
toward genre in literary studies, and what this might suggest about the
continuing value of genre as a methodological tool and, in Jameson's phrase=
"socio-symbolic message," as well as the needs and imperatives of current
criticism. At the same time, we hope the panel will offer new approaches
from emerging scholars on the subject.

We are interested in papers that interrogate, complicate, extend, or
otherwise reflect on genre as a formal, historical, and theoretical
principle of organization, and that perform generic readings with attention
to the larger contexts and constraints of the genre under scrutiny.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

=95 the relationship between genre and affect, cognition, the psychic
=95 "the mediatory function" of genre: connections between genre critici=
and historical materialism
=95 generic publics and the role of the audience in genre formation:
questions of marketing/packaging/promotion, reception histories,
circulation, patterns of consumption, modes of address
=95 genre and/as law: generic "representativeness," generic
=95 genre and media: technology, archival innovations, and their effects=
=95 genre and deformation: distressed genres, outmoded or remaindered
=95 generic reconceptualizations, renaissances, retoolings

Please submit an abstract of approximately 500 words via email by March 15t=
to Please put "MLA Panel Submission" in the subject

For more information, contact:
Margaret Ronda
English Department
University of California, Berkeley

              From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
                         Full Information at
         or write Jennifer Higginbotham:
Received on Fri Feb 16 2007 - 19:27:52 EST