CFP: Radical Women and the Language of Community (9/15/07; NEMLA, 4/10/08-4/13/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Susannah Bartlow
contact email: 

Call for Papers
"Poetic Justice: Radical Women and the Language of Community"
39th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 10-13, 2008
Buffalo, New York

How do radical women write about¡½-and write towards-¡½political and
artistic commitments? Taking a cue from the "disloyal" career of
Adrienne Rich, this panel looks back on the history of how radical
woman writers and thinkers have used language to interrogate,
reinforce, or stimulate political action. The panel is open to
scholars of the 20th and 19th century literary traditions, as we work
to learn from women's self-conscious claiming of language as a
political tool.

Rich¡½-an early darling of the lyric poetry establishment who became an
activist poet-¡½spoke at a reading in 1973 about her evolution. "¡Ä
[I]n the more recent poems something is happening, something has
happened to me and, if I have been a good parent to the poem,
something will happen to you who read it" (Adrienne Rich's Poetry,
89). Rich shared this determination to make her words work on the
reader with a number of radical women activists who made a political
commitment to artistic action in small literary presses, activist
communities, and pedagogies.

Key questions:

¡ü Rich says "something is happening, something has happened to
me"¡½-what is this event? How is "happening" legitimized and
aestheticized in women's writing?
¡ü What is the relationship between queer identity and the aesthetic
stance of radical women writers?
¡ü What is the relationship between racial identity politics and the
artistic or literary approaches of radical women?
¡ü How do the authors' self-conscious discussions of language
influence the relationship between text and reader?
¡ü How do radical women use their words within chosen communities?
Examples include Rich and Audre Lorde's use of essay and poetry to
interrogate feminist identity politics, activist writing of Ntozake
Shange and June Jordan, or Alice Walker's recent essays and
conversations about Buddhism.
¡ü Is there, in fact, a shared aesthetic of intentional language among
radical women, or is this aesthetic embedded in a variety of other
traditions that can't or shouldn't be united under an "activist,"
"feminist," "womanist" or "_____ist" umbrella?

¡Ä and much, much more.

Note: Although the panel seeks to learn from 20th century feminism,
the political element of this aesthetic has a history in women's
activist writing of the late 19th and early 20th century (e.g. Ida B.
Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, and other women who used literary devices to
promote radical and far-reaching solutions to patriarchy's shifting
institutions). Artistic emphasis on the relationship between reader
and author, meanwhile, pervades sentimental fiction of the past and
present. So, papers that connect the late 20th century radical
movement with its moral and literary ancestors are welcome.

Deadline: September 15, 2007

Please email abstracts to and include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any)

The complete Call for Papers for the 2008 NeMLA Convention will be
posted in June:

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA
panel; however panelists can only present one paper. Convention
participants may present at a paper session panel and also present at
a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

--Susannah BartlowGraduate AssistantUB Gender Institute216 Harriman HallUB South Campus3435 Main StreetBuffalo, NY 14214716-829-3451www.genderbuffalo.orgPh. D. studentDepartment of Englishsbartlow_at_buffalo.eduAdjunct FacultyLiberal Arts/EnglishD'Youville College ========================================================== From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List Full Information at or write Jennifer Higginbotham: ==========================================================Received on Fri May 11 2007 - 17:16:13 EDT