CFP: [American] American Women's Supernatural Fiction

full name / name of organization: 
Cindy Murillo
contact email: 

Proposed Panel: Do I Fear What I See?: Exploring the Supernatural in
American Women’s Fiction
College English Association
Conference Theme: “Passages”
March 27-29, 2008
St. Louis, MO

This is a call for papers to complete a panel proposal on American women’s
supernatural fiction for the College English Association national
conference in St. Louis.

The supernatural tale or ghost story has long been established as a popular
literary form in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century British
fiction, yet its merit in American literature, especially in those texts
written by women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has
been decidedly under-theorized and deserves to be critically evaluated and

What has not been considered in supernatural studies is a more specific
analysis of writings by American women whose supernatural fiction reflects
a different cultural, aesthetic, and political environment from their
British counterparts. Rather than suggesting that the supernatural or
ghostly tale consistently reflected women’s oppressive position in society,
this panel will actively explore other ways in which such liminal figures
as the ghost, the madwoman, the femmes fatal, the double, and the mentally
disabled were represented in supernatural literature and even transformed
over time. How did the representation of such literary figures affect the
reading public and how can we, as teachers, work to stress their importance
in the study of American literature?

Various angles on this subject will be discussed, including those that
bring in an interdisciplinary approach. Some possible questions our panel
will consider include:

How does the supernatural manifest itself in literature? Film? Music? Art?
How is the supernatural defined and even reconfigured in contemporary
literature, film, art, etc.?
How is the supernatural used to support a political, cultural, and/or
social agenda?
How and in what ways do authors use some manifestations of the
supernatural, yet dismiss others?
How are women and other minority groups associated with the supernatural?
How have other liminal figures, such as the ghost, been ignored or
displaced throughout literary courses and how can pedagogical efforts be
made to change the direction in which such liminal or marginal figures are
taught and incorporated in pedagogy?
How do elements of the supernatural affect or undermine hegemonic forces in
a particular culture?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using unrealistic elements to
comment on serious issues?

Please send abstracts to Cindy Murillo ( by January 25, 2008.

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Received on Mon Dec 10 2007 - 16:31:25 EST