Roundtable: Power, Privilege, and the Politics of Recoherence (NeMLA)

full name / name of organization: 
Sara E. Murphy and Don Rodrigues / NeMLA 2014

What happens when, in a work of poetry or prose, a hegemonic order is cracked, disrupted, reconstituted, and reshaped; in the words of Jamaica Kincaid, 'Do you ever wonder why some people blow things up?' We invite participants for a roundtable session that will explore the idea that 20th and 21st century authors who write from positions of deprivilege often explicitly engage in performative illogicality and disorientation as a tactic of epistemological re-formation within their texts. Focusing on writers who, rather than foisting upon reading subjects an illegible or even deconstructed incoherence, insist upon both recognition and reconstitution of meaning-making, we wish to point toward the idea that such writers may generate a kind of recoherence that at once impugns and embraces, interrogates and generates meaning. We ask participants to investigate how, in the aftermath of recoherence, reading subjects must reconceptualize not only literary form and space but also the parameters of thinking, feeling, and desire that traditionally envelop and legitimate positions of power and privilege.

Participants working through moments of literary recoherence in 20th and 21st century texts by authors writing from oppressed positionalities within privilege systems (including genderism, androcentrism, racism, Eurocentrism, heterosexism, ableism, educationalism, pro-natalism, anti-Semitism, colorism, language bias, class bias, and the politics of appearance) are encouraged to submit 250-word abstracts and biographical information to Sara E. Murphy at and Don Rodrigues at