Contemporary Literature and the Possibility of a Left: Toward A New Politics (Seminar, NeMLA, March 21-24, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Adam Kelly & Maggie Gram, Harvard University

Might contemporary literature help to construct a left politics for our time? Can it help us to revive old political models, or to invent new ones? This seminar solicits readings of contemporary literary texts that grapple (or afford their readers tools with which to grapple) with the possibilities of political engagement in the present. We ask how particular literary genres might be fit or unfit for contemporary political thinking, and how contemporary texts use literary form to engage questions of equality and inequality, corporatism, sustainability, democracy, racial justice, and human rights. We also encourage inquiries that reach beyond these categories to interrogate received terms and logics and to address political challenges and possibilities on multiple (local, national, global) scales.

We hope that the broad scope of the seminar will allow for conversations between critics of contrasting methodologies and areas of expertise, including but not limited to contemporary Marxism, the new economic criticism, liberal aesthetics, sociology of institutions, eco-criticism, gender and sexuality studies, critical race studies, postcolonial studies, etc. We set no restrictions on the genres or national origins of the literature under consideration, although papers should be written in English.

The seminar format is as follows: there will be between 6 and 10 participants, who will pre-circulate papers of 3,000-5,000 words. The session at NeMLA will be two hours long; each participant will give a very brief oral description of his or her paper, for the benefit of audience members, before we proceed to open discussion. The co-chairs will act as respondents.

Send abstracts of 300-500 words to Adam Kelly and Maggie Gram, Harvard University, at Include your name and affiliation with your abstract.

Deadline: September 30, 2012.

44th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 21-24, 2013
Boston, Massachusetts
Host Institution: Tufts University