Conversion Narrative Redux: Health, Wealth, Travel, and Contemporary Bestselling Life Writing (NeMLA 2014)
This panel seeks to interrogate the connections between physical and mental health, material wealth, spirituality, and the bestselling conversion memoir of the twenty-first century. Conversion narrative itself is as old as the United States; in recent years, however, it has experienced a resurgence in its publication and readership. Are the "new" conversion narratives, such as Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 *Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia*, Mary Karr's 2009 *LIT*, or even Cheryl Strayed's 2012 *Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail* really about the authors' spiritual experiences, or does something else lurk beneath the surface? Are they about being healthy, in any sense of the word? Are they about attaining material wealth? Are they travel narratives? Or are they some combination?
This panel will address the narrative and socio-political connections between physical and mental health, material wealth, and the bestselling travel memoir of the twenty-first century. Topics may include, but are not limited to: narrative analyses of contemporary travel memoir; the connections between the travel memoir and biopower and/or imperialism; whether self-regulation is embedded in such texts, or if they subvert the notion of such; religion, travel, and life writing. Abstracts that suggest a theoretical or sociological connection to gender/sexuality/queer studies are encouraged.
Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (preferably .pdf attachments) to Kate Birdsall (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than September 30, 2013.