UPDATE: Conversion Narrative Redux: Health, Wealth, Travel, and Contemporary Bestselling Life Writing (NeMLA

full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA 2014 / Harrisburg (deadline extended)
contact email: 
birdsal5@msu.edu

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 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.

We 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.

Please submit 250-500 word abstracts (preferably .pdf attachments) to Kate Birdsall (birdsal5@msu.edu) no later than October 14, 2013.

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
gender_studies_and_sexuality
interdisciplinary
popular_culture
theory
travel_writing
twentieth_century_and_beyond