CFP: [Romantic] 2009 MLA Special Session: The Social Supernatural

full name / name of organization: 
Melissa Edmundson
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2009 MLA Special Session: "The Social Supernatural"

Abstracts are invited for a proposed special session at the 2009 MLA
Convention (to be held 27-30 December in Philadelphia). "The Social
Supernatural" session seeks papers which explore social uses of ghost
stories in British literature, nineteenth century to the present. Thinking
of supernatural writers in terms of what I call the "social supernatural"
allows us to expand our view of many authors (who are typically studied
only as supernatural writers and not as social critics) and their works.
Likewise, elements of social critique within the realm of supernatural
literature provide additional layers of meaning. It complicates the ghost
story genre, by engaging in larger social forces that go beyond ghosts used
for entertainment purposes, or specters that found their literary worth in
the ability to frighten readers. The social supernatural was an intriguing
area for many authors during the nineteenth century because it allowed them
to voice their socio-political concerns within the well-known and
non-threatening form of the "ghost story." These writers used the figure of
the ghost to carry their messages of social reform, or to raise awareness
of problems in British society that needed to be considered or changed.
Thus, the social supernatural combines an entertaining ghost story with a
deeper social or political agenda.

Possible topics can include critiques of gender, religion, class, race, or
imperialism through a supernatural lens. Accepted panelists will be
notified by 25 March and must be MLA members by 7 April 2009 (please visit Send 1-page proposals to Melissa Edmundson
( by 15 March 2009.

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Received on Sun Feb 15 2009 - 19:38:26 EST