CFP: [General] Death in Contemporary Life Writing

full name / name of organization: 
Georgia Kreiger
contact email: 

40th Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
Feb. 26-March 1, 2009
Hyatt Regency - Boston, Massachusetts

Autobiography and memoir may be the only contexts for which, at least for
the writer, death does not exist. The writer’s death lies always beyond
the end of the story, beyond the scope of the life narrated, because death
lies always somewhere outside of the writer’s lived experience. Yet, as
some theorists have suggested, every autobiography is in some sense an
autothanatographyâ€"a contemplation, anticipation, or imagination of the
writer’s own death. All life writing implicates death, either literally or
metaphorically, as a means of defining and expressing the self.

This panel will explore the subject of death in contemporary life writings
such as autobiographies, memoirs, and works of creative nonfiction. The
panel’s purpose will be to examine contemporary writers’ conceptions of
death, their struggle to describe a condition that is essentially
unknowable, and their uses of death as a signifier for lived conditions.
Presentations may contribute to the fields of trauma study, grief study,
and narrative theory in general. Topics may include
• the metaphorical use of death in testimonies to trauma;
• the depiction of death in narratives of loss and grief;
• accounts of the dying process of the self or another;
• the role death plays in stories about the self.

Deadline: September 15, 2008

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Received on Sat May 17 2008 - 22:45:35 EDT