CFP: [American] NEMLA 2008 : Geography, Gender, and Identity in 20th Century American Womenâs Fiction

full name / name of organization: 
Shealeen Meaney
contact email:

Call For Papers

North East Modern Language Association
39th Annual Convention
April 10-13, 2008, Buffalo, New York

Deadline: September 15, 2007

Panel: "Spaces of Subjectivity: Geography, Gender, and Identity in 20th
Century American Women’s Fiction"

The gendering of space and the spatializing of identity are processes of
much interest in contemporary culture study. This panel will examine
women’s representations of place and emplacement in American Women’s
Literature of the 20th century. From the closing of the frontier at the
end of the 19th century to women’s continued struggles to escape the
domestic sphere at the end of the 20th, American conceptualizations of
identity have always been preoccupied with space, fixity, and mobility.

For instance, the wilderness has long been conceived of as a space of
individuation, a testing ground for the independent seeker, and
an “outside” to the protection, as well as the surveillance and
discipline, of the dominant social order. In the United States,
wilderness has also been seen as constitutive of a kind of national
exceptionalism and a formative element of a uniquely “American”
character. As the 20th century arrived and carried on, a growing
tendency to conflate “the west” with “the wilderness” developed, and a
tendency to conflate both with masculinity grew as well. And yet, a
feminine gendering of the wilderness and an association of womanhood with
the natural world has a long and complicated history in America. Many
women writers have found the environments, tropes, and orders of the
natural world to be rich territory for examinations and expressions of
gendered (and raced) identity.

On the other hand, many critics have noted that the early industrial and
information technologies at the turn of the 20th century and the
concomitant urbanization and feminization of the workforce allowed women
to forge new forms of femininity and personal identity. Thus, the
liberties of mobility and the respatialization of women’s work shaped the
landscape of women’s fiction of the first half of the 20th century, as
recent studies of popular “middlebrow” women’s literature have
suggested. Finally, feminist studies of women’s travel writing and
theories of nomadic subjectivity have raised important questions about
the privileges and problems of both fixity and mobility as gendered (and
gendering) conditions in contemporary culture.

This panel will bring together analyses of gender, geography, and
subjectivity to query the ways that women writers in the United States
have used representations of place and emplacement to redefine ideals of
self, nation, and gender in 20th century literature.

1-2 Page Abstracts Due September 15, 2007 to:

Shealeen Meaney <>

Please include contact information and A/V requests. (Please be aware
that NEMLA charges $10 for A/V equipment)

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Received on Thu Aug 09 2007 - 12:59:50 EDT

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