Contemporary Labor and Cultural Exchange (ACLA 2011; Deadline: Nov. 12)

full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

The structure of the labor force and the experience of work have undergone a number of significant shifts in the past half-century. The transition to a post-industrial or service-based economy in America and other Western countries was accompanied by the substitution of a geographically dispersed working class for the local workers of the preceding era. As Linda McDowell argues, this new class increasingly performs embodied service work, much of which was once located in the home. In more prestigious service occupations, "the physical attributes of the body" and the worker's emotions are also an integral part of the labor performed.

Focusing on immigrant and world literature and film, this panel seeks to examine the relation between the structure of contemporary labor and the modes of cultural exchange taking place within these media. For instance, does the privileging of certain bodies in Western white-collar occupations affect the representations that target this audience? How are particular occupations gendered or racialized in contemporary texts? Are there formal devices or strategies that could be linked to contemporary labor? In raising such questions, this seminar engages with David Damrosch's understanding of world literature as an array of literary texts that "circulate beyond their culture of origin," aiming to interrogate the terms of such circulation.

Papers from a variety of disciplines and theoretical approaches, addressing any aspect of this topic are welcome.

Please submit your proposals by November 12th online at:

The ACLA conference will take place in Vancouver, Canada on March 31-April 3, 2011. For more information, please visit the conference website:
If you have any questions about this seminar, e-mail Polina Kroik at