'Is the Biographer an Artist?': Tracing Authority within Collected Remembrance--NeMLA 2014 April 3-6

full name / name of organization: 
Amanda Weldy Boyd
contact email: 

45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 3-6, 2014
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Host: Susquehanna University

In 2000, critic Tom Paulin attacked biographer Richard Holmes' Sidetracks: Explorations of a Romantic Biographer, asking: 'Is the biographer an artist who can and should exist on equal terms with the dramatist, fiction writer and poet? The short and robust answer is 'certainly not.'' Even today, many biographies are treated as permanent (if frequently flawed) vessels conveying important knowledge about their subjects rather than dynamic texts worthy of aesthetic study. Jean Marc Blanchard speaks to this problem by assuming in his criticism that "autobiography is a literary genre, whereas biography is not." Laura Marcus, in her text Auto/Biography, comments on biography's strange position between history and literature, noting that while autobiography is approached as a literary genre, biography "remains very largely untheorized."

This panel seeks papers discussing authority, performativity, or the relation between subjectivity and objectivity within autobiography and/or biography. While this panel welcomes papers centering on auto/biographies of specific subjects, it also aims to query the extent to which auto/biographies can be considered as subjective artistic works of aesthetic value, theoretically objective works of reference, or somewhere in between. Please submit 250-500 word abstracts and brief biographical statements to Amanda Weldy Boyd at weldy@usc.edu.

Deadline: September 30, 2013

Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

The 2014 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. This year's conference will be held in Harrisberg, Pennsylvania. This capitol city set on the Susquehanna River is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, historical sites, the National Civil War museum, and nearby Amish Country, antique shops and Hershey Park. NeMLA has arranged low hotel rates of $104-$124.

The 2014 event will include guest speakers, literary readings, professional events, and workshops. A reading by George Saunders will open the Convention. His 2013 collection of short fiction, The Tenth of December, has been acclaimed by the New York Times as "the best book you'll read this year." The Keynote speaker will be David Staller of Project Shaw.

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. http://www.nemla.org/convention/2014/cfp.html