CFP: [Theory] The Neighbor in Literature (9/15/07; NEMLA, 4/10/08-4/13/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Sean Dempsey
contact email: 

Call for Papers

The Neighbor in Literature

39th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 10-13, 2008
Buffalo, New York

Building upon recent articulations of the “neighbor” as a political category that shifts the political
topography away from an inside / outside dynamic of friends and enemies, this panel seeks to
explore how literature has depicted the figure of the neighbor in the past and how a closer
evaluation of the implications of these depictions may provide insight into new ways of thinking
about aesthetics, ethics, and politics. Starting with the biblical injunction to “love thy neighbor as
thyself” (Lev. 19:18), the figure of the neighbor has a long history of importance for political
theology and ethics that spreads from the linked heritage of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim
textual traditions to secular modernity and beyond. The neighbor has emerged as a significant
concept in a surprising number of important thinkers including Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche,
Kierkegaard, Freud, Weber, Durkheim, Rosenzweig, Levinas, Lacan, and Derrida.

The neighbor resides in the space between family and polis and between inside and outside. It is
due to this peculiar hybridity that so much attention has been recently lavished upon this figure.
In works such as The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology, co-authored by Eric
Santner, Kenneth Reinhard, and Slavoj Žižek, and Derrida’s Politics of Friendship and The Gift of
Death, the history of evaluating neighbor-love has become a privileged locus for the reinvention
of both ethics and politics. As such, this panel seek to understand how literature can help us in
both the process of evaluating the history of “the neighbor” and how these evaluations might
assist in envisioning new possibilities in ethics and politics. Some of the questions this panel
hopes to address include: who counts as a “neighbor”? Why should I love my neighbor? What
does it mean to love my neighbor in a secular society? Can a new response to the neighbor help
develop a political community that moves beyond the friend / enemy distinction?

Other possible topics include, but are not limited to:

*Representations of the neighbor in literature, film, television, art
*The neighbor as it relates to romanticism, modernism, postmodernism
*The neighbor and politics
*The neighbor and secularization
*The neighbor and postcolonial Studies
*Popular Culture and the neighbor
*The neighbor and the role of property and boundary marking
*Do “good fences makes good neighbors”?

Abstracts of 250-500 words should be emailed to Sean Dempsey at no later than
September 15, 2007. Questions or queries are welcomed before the deadline.

Deadline: September 15, 2007

Please include with your abstract:

Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any)

The complete Call for Papers for the 2008 Convention will be posted in June:
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA panel; however panelists
can only present one paper. Convention participants may present at a paper session panel and
also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

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Received on Wed Aug 01 2007 - 16:50:30 EDT