New Formalism, Aesthetics, and American Literary Studies - NeMLA, April 7-11, 2010, Montreal

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Northeast Modern Language Association

41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

New Formalism, Aesthetics, and American Literary Studies

American literary studies have found themselves particularly amenable to the types of identitarian reading practices that largely displaced formalist, aestheticist reading practices, while critiquing the unstated—often unconscious—political investments of such reading practices. However, recent theorists of the aesthetic, such as Isobel Armstrong and Jonathan Loesberg, have challenged the idea that the aesthetic as an evaluative category is basically an ideological state apparatus that upholds a particular set of values as universal, thereby perpetuating a particular set of cultural norms in the name of something like Culture. And yet many, such as Marjorie Levinson in her 2007 PMLA article "What is New Formalism?" have noted that a "return to aesthetics" as a movement is curiously devoid of a coherent system of thought or methodological approach by which to guide such a return. What, then, can "new formalism" mean? More specifically, what can it means for American literary studies? What are the possibilities of new formalism or a return to aesthetics for scholars of American literature? This panel seeks submissions that would explore answers to this question, whether through theoretical inquiry or applied readings of specific texts.

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Dustin Hannum (

Deadline: September 30, 2009

Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)

The 41st Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June:

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

Travel to Canada now requires a passport for U.S. citizens. Please get your passport application in early.