Forms of Social Failure

full name / name of organization: 
Matthew Garrett/Wesleyan University, Joseph Drury/Wesleyan University
contact email: 

Paper proposals are invited for a panel at the 2011 MLA conference in Los Angeles on the topic of "Forms of Social Failure." In what ways have narratives explored the interarticulation of individual and social failure? When has failure become a formal device for representing an uneven, unequal, or otherwise problematic social world? What historical moments seem unusually preoccupied with social or political failure? Under what conditions might failure say more than success?

We aim for a historically and theoretically diverse but conceptually tight panel emphasizing the relationship between failure and narrative forms. We welcome papers that explore, theoretically or historically, the relationship between narrative forms and, for example, economic failure; political failure; subjective failure within the regime of social norms; failures of language; failures of desire; aesthetic failures.

Please send a 500-word abstract and brief CV to Matthew Garrett ( by March 15.