Addiction Recovery and Spiritual Auto/biography (1-21-10; ASA 11-18-10)

full name / name of organization: 
Eoin Cannon
contact email: 

Seeking papers on alcohol or drug recovery narratives from any era, insofar as they inhabit, create, alter, or resist traditions of religious and spiritual life-writing in America. The panel will understand "spiritual" as broadly as necessary to accommodate any thoughtful or provocative take on addiction narrative.
Recent scholarship has begun to take therapeutic recovery narrative and its associated support-group, self-help, and media cultures more seriously, as both significant shapers of contemporary selfhood and as heir to traditions in American culture that date to the evangelical revivals and temperance movements of the 18th and 19th centuries. The panel aims to further understanding of the persistence of addiction and recovery as influential ways of defining the self (and its cultural surroundings) through narrative, especially the kinds of rebirth narratives once considered to belong mainly to religion.
Questions to be discussed might include: What aspects of religious logic and social practice are preserved, and which are lost, in the shift to therapeutic language? What mechanisms do such narratives employ to create meaning beyond the description of a subject's experience? What ideological uses have addiction and recovery narratives served? What limits do the physical and narrative logics of addiction place on one another, if any, and what impact does the development of medical knowledge have on such dynamics?
Please send a 300-word abstract by Jan. 21 to