The Literary Organ, MLA 2011 (January 6-9, 2011; Los Angeles)

full name / name of organization: 
A Special Session (subject to MLA approval)

"I have given no small attention to that not unvexed subject, the skin of the whale. I have had controversies about it with experienced whalemen afloat, and learned naturalists ashore. My original opinion remains unchanged; but it is only an opinion. The question is, what and where is the skin of the whale?"

--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

An organ is, among other things, a part of a human or animal body; a site of sensation; a functioning unit within a larger system; a medium or engine of circulation, as in a magazine or journal; an instrument, device, or tool; a contraption of pipes that produces music. The concept of the organ unites mechanicity with organicity, function with form, embodiment with perception. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari suggest that it is by detaching from the physical intractability of organs and their functions that we may repurpose the physical and produce an unstable, flowing "body without organs." We invite papers that seek to mine the valences of perception, embodiment, medium, and literary form prompted by the term "organ," especially in relation to literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Please send 300-word abstracts and short bio to Natalia Cecire (cecire@berkeley.edu) and Hillary Gravendyk (hillary.gravendyk@pomona.edu) by 1 March 2010.