The Elegiac Mode: Contemporary Transformations in Elegy Studies (9/30/2012; NeMLA 3/21-24/2013, Boston, MA)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Clare Emily Clifford / Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

The Elegiac Mode: Contemporary Transformations in Elegy Studies
44th Annual Conference, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 21-24, 2013
Boston, MA

The Elegiac Mode: Contemporary Transformations in Elegy Studies

Although "elegy" is a term often associated with a classic poetic form and function, with its own set of generic conventions, the last thirty years have brought critical attention to reconsidering the elegy and its contemporary transformations. The recent publication of The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy (2010) continues attesting to what many leading scholars (notably Melissa Zeiger, Jahan Ramazani, R. Clifton Spargo, Max Cavitch, John Vickery, and David Kennedy) in elegy studies have shown—that modern and contemporary elegiac impulses often resist and refigure elegy's traditional conventions. This panel strives to reach across traditional concepts of genre by interrogating the elegiac mode less as a fixed form and more as an active and modulating tendency of texts. Therefore, this panel seeks papers addressing transformations of elegy and the elegiac in contemporary literary texts and cultural studies.

Papers may engage such questions as: How do contemporary writers and artists reconsider and reconfigure the formal qualities of traditional elegy? What are the primary conventions of elegy which undergo alteration, and what do such modulations communicate? How might cultural, aesthetic, and geographical concerns intersect with loss in contemporary elegiac texts and productions? How are canonical elegiac texts shaped and reshaped for contemporary needs, while still showing allegiance to the elegiac temper in form, structure, content, and style? In what ways do contemporary elegies respond to and restructure inherited modes of mourning and remembrance? How does the contemporary elegiac temper wrestle with closure, consolation, or the anti-consolatory? What role does gender, race, and class play in contemporary refigurations of the elegy? What happens to rites of burial and/or funerary rituals in contemporary texts? In what ways are corpses and the bodies of the dead memorable, immemorable, remembered, or dismembered in the contemporary elegiac? How do national (or postnational) concerns intersect with elegy studies? In contemporary texts, how is individual loss differentiated from catastrophic loss on massive scales (whether due to illness, accident, war, or other traumatic events)? How does elegy confront genocide? What happens to elegy in the post-Holocaust and post-9/11 eras?

Additional subjects of focus could include any of the various subcategories of the contemporary elegiac turn:

• self elegy or anti-elegy
• animal elegy
• ecological or environmental elegy
• illness elegy (as occasioned by AIDS, breast cancer, MS, etc)
• prose elegy and/or the elegiac memoir
• the elegy in translation; or, translating elegy
• female elegists and gendered elegiac readers
• African American elegy
• Native American elegy
• post-colonial and transnational elegy
• elegiac hybridity
• elegy in comics or the graphic novel
• musical elegy
• digital/visual elegy (such as the photographic elegy or film elegy)
• the war elegy and the war memorial as elegy
• museum elegies

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts via email to Dr. Clare Emily Clifford at ccliffor[at]bsc[dot]edu by September 30, 2012. Details and the complete CFP for the 2013 NeMLA Convention available at:

Dr. Clare Emily Clifford
Department of English
Birmingham-Southern College