CFP: The Literature of Intellectual Labor (3/15/06; MLA '06)

full name / name of organization: 
Rob Henn
contact email: 

Call for Papers: The Literature of Intellectual Labor

Proposed Special Session for MLA 2006

In an era when institutions of higher education are rapidly downsizing, and thus patterns
of academic work are changing sometimes dramatically, theories of intellectual labor have
proliferated and received increasing attention in literary studies. This panel would
examine more broadly the connections between (theories of) intellectual labor and
literary works. How have works of literature, broadly defined, represented intellectuals
and/or mental labor, and what connections or disconnections obtain between these
representations and the many existing theories of mental work? I am mainly interested in
twentieth-century representations and theories, but papers examining other periods are
also welcome.

Possible rubrics include intellectual workers as

* (part of) a class in themselves (PMC, New Class, "new working class");
* a classless stratum properly dedicated to universal truth (Benda, Mannheim);
* organic representatives of a class (Gramsci);
* bureaucrats (some Trotskyists, or Weberian critics like C. Wright Mills, etc.);
* professionals (too many to list, often intersecting with other categories here);
* public figures (Jacoby et al.).

Papers might also examine literary works in relations to various recognized groupings of
intellectuals in the past or present: New York, Black public, neoconservative,
Bloomsbury, Fugitive, etc. Studies of intellectual work in relation to a particular venue
are also welcome: intellectual workers in magazines ("little," web-based, or otherwise),
on campus (campus novels, etc.), or involved in politics (grassroots or governmental).
Please send your abstract and a brief bio to Rob Henn ( by March 15;
all panelists must be members of MLA by April 7.

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Received on Sat Feb 18 2006 - 10:00:28 EST