CFP: AJS Panel "Love in the New World: Jewish American Women's Immigrant Narratives"

full name / name of organization: 
Tahneer Oksman
contact email: 

"He had vanished like a dream, and yet he was not a dream. He was the only thing real in the unreal emptiness of her unlived life." –Anzia Yezierska, "Wings"

From Anzia Yezierska to Lara Vapnyar, Jewish American women's immigrant narratives have frequently addressed the quest – sometimes successful, more often detrimental – for love in the New World. In many of these works, the desired other stands in for an idea rather than a person, obscuring the material and emotional realities of the parties involved. The love plot hence often encapsulates the immigrant's hunger to bridge cultures, frequently evoking the yearning to find a familiar sense of self, one that feels like home.

For this panel, we seek paper proposals exploring the literary representations (poetry, prose, and/or graphic narratives) of Jewish immigrant women in twentieth- and twenty-first century America. Using the love motif as a lens, our panel will examine notions of assimilation, identity, and self in the New World, and explore the ways that such motifs have played out in American women's immigrant narratives over the last century. Some of the questions that our panel will seek to answer include: How are notions of self and identity affected in and through transcultural partnerships? What are the costs of seeking companionship across cultural, social, and ethnic borders, and how have these costs, and their representations in literature, changed over time? How have new waves of immigration, as well as technological developments, transformed the general configurations and articulations of love in the New World? What role does gender and/or sexuality play in these encounters?

Please send 200-250 word proposals to Agnieszka Legutko ( and Tahneer Oksman ( by Apr 25th.