Making Art In/About/For Cities in Crisis

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

This session seeks to promote cross-disciplinary discussion of the roles verbal and visual art might play in the 21st-century American city. On the heels of the Great Recession, cities are undergoing massive transformations, with some gaining new prominence by attracting what Richard Florida calls "creative class" workers while others, particularly in the industrial Midwest and overbuilt South and Southwest, seem to be in irreversible decline. In collaboration with government and business leaders, architects and urban designers are arranging the physical environments of cities on the rise to further accelerate and intensify economic growth. At the same time, writers and artists are flocking to cities at the other end of the spectrum—Detroit, most prominently—creating collectives and workshops reminiscent of the 1960s poetry and art scenes in cities like Los Angeles and New York. Are we, as Sarah Schulman argues in The Gentrification of the Mind, on the leading edge of another wave of appropriation and displacement, with writers and artists merely leading the way? Can anything save cities from capitalism's tendency toward creative destruction? Do they need to be saved? Is there a critique from art or aesthetic theory that might be put in productive dialogue with economic and cultural approaches to urban problems? When will the new generation of urban artists break through and in which media? Send 250-word abstracts with contact and affiliation information to Nate Mickelson, by September 30, 2013.

About the Conference:

The 2014 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. 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." NeMLA's Keynote Speaker will be David Staller, Producer and Director of Project Shaw. Mr. Staller presents monthly script-in-hand performances of Bernard Shaw's plays at the Players Club in New York City.

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.