Ethnicity and Affect in American Literatures

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

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

How do readers experience characters' conflicting emotions? Are these emotions gendered or racially-defined; and if so, how or why?

This panel will read 20th and 21st-century ethnic American literatures toward considering how writers use experimental modes of characterization and narration to create new senses of ethnicity for a multicultural United States. Looking beyond literary nationalisms and cultural contextualizations, our inquiries will read emotional expressions within literary texts in order to probe these pieces for new ideas concerning what is collective about individuals' endeavors for social survival. Feelings of belonging suggest contexts and affective responses that subvert affirmative connotations of ethnic identification, problematically strengthening the dominant social order. Our readings will pay particular attention to characters' struggles with group identification and/ or varieties of intra-ethnic social injustice, perpetrated when one is at affective odds with one's group.

Our inquiry will open a space for productive re-examinations of theoretical and social issues of particularity and nationalism that have surfaced in the latter half of the 20th century and remain of crucial concern to scholar. Potential directions of panel presentations include (but are not limited to) issues related to aesthetic experiences of guilt/ longing/ melancholy/ love (etc.); post-911 literatures; considerations and explorations of flexibility in cultural 'knowledge'/ discourse; the importance of non-cognitive modes of expression; and of course, the applicability of affect theory to 20th-c. and contemporary literary study.

Please send any inquiries and your 300 – 500 word abstract, as a PDF or Word attachment, to Laurie Rodrigues:

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. Harrisburg, PA, set on the Susquehanna River, is known for its restaurant scene, historical sites, antique shops, the National Civil War museum, and its proximity to Amish Country and Hershey Park. NeMLA has arranged for hotel rates between $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.

Please note that interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists may only present one paper (panel or seminar) at the Convention. Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.