Modernism and the (Im)Possible "Time of the Now" (NeMLA, April 3-6, 2014)

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Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

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

"Each now is the now of a particular knowability. In it, truth is charged to the bursting point with time. (This point of explosion […] coincides with […] the time of truth.) It is not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation."
- Walter Benjamin

This panel is interested in how the "time of the now" has been represented in modernist literature, and whether an experience of the present – such as Virginia Woolf's "moments of being" – is even possible. Martin Hägglund's Dying for Time (2012) elaborates the logic of "chronolibido" to reflect on our fundamental investment in a temporal existence that is necessarily always subject to loss. There is an inherent trauma in temporal experience, because there is no possibility of experiencing the present as such: the "now" is either always not yet or always already over. Given recent approaches to temporality, including those by Hägglund and Michael Clune, we hope to reconsider how literary representations of time have refuted or defended the possibility of experiencing the present moment. Drawing from a tradition of attempts to understand and explain the experience of the present, such as Benjamin's "constellation" or Hägglund's "chronolibido," we invite papers that engage with philosophical and theoretical approaches to modernism's representation of the "now." Send 250-word abstracts and brief bio to Matthew Scully at and/or Nell Wasserstrom at

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 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.